Pillow Talk: Sleep & Education

  • #UKEdChat session 573
  • Sleep can help learners reach their full potential
  • Teachers who value sleep are more productive
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Sleep is undervalued in today’s society. As a chronically sleep-deprived adult, both through insomnia and life circumstances, I personally feel the effects of a lack of sleep on my performance. Not getting enough sleep dulls the wits, slows one’s speech, and headaches are not uncommon. The elixir of life, otherwise known as coffee can only do so much and has its own issues.

Most teachers are preoccupied with keeping learners awake. But the impact of a good night’s sleep can help learners reach their full potential, and maybe the difference between a grade boundary over the course of a year. While it is understandable that teachers may recoil at deeper involvement into the home life of pupils, there are things that teachers and schools can do to improve sleep and therefore learning – which is what we are all here for at the end of the day. Many interventions are less drastic than, the often talked about in the media, changing the start time of school, although this would certainly help. Small changes and lessons about how to sleep can have an impact. And once again, early years are ahead of the curve with naps at school being a regular fixture in the nursery setting.

The culture of teaching is often toxic for good sleep, with ‘warrior teachers’ claiming that they only get 3 hours of sleep a night and that lets them be productive. Everyone needs to understand that this is a lie, a scientific impossibility, call out such assertions as such, and recognise the damage that this does to everyone else, especially teachers new to the profession. Only then, one day, will we teach in a culture where wellbeing is truly valued – which will surely help us all sleep better at night?

In this #UKEdChat session, which took place on Thursday 7th October 2021 at 8pm(UK), we discussed how to improve sleep patterns for both staff and learners, how sleep impacts learning and how school culture around sleep might change.


  1. Do you think you get enough sleep, and do you value sleep?
  2. Do think think that sleep, of the lack of it, is something that schools should try to address?
  3. Is good sleep valued at your school, and if so, how is it promoted?
  4. What can you do as an individual teacher to improve the sleep of your learners?
  5. Do you think that ‘sleep hygiene’, were good techniques and healthy sleeping practices, should be explicitly taught at school?
  6. How does school work that is brought home impact on (a) pupils’ and (b) teachers’ sleep, and what can be done to mitigate the negatives?
  7. How does a lack of sleep impair your own teaching, and on the teaching profession as a whole?
  8. How can schools improve the sleep of staff?

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About @ICTmagic 780 Articles
Martin Burrett is the editor of our popular UKEdMagazine, along with curating resources in the ICTMagic section, and free resources for teachers on UKEd.Directory

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