Do your students look tired when in your class? This is quite common in young students, as they are often not getting enough sleep. In fact, most people are lacking sleep and face the consequences throughout their day. Losing focus, declining grades, and a diminished memory are only a few of the costs of lost sleep. Luckily, the solution is simple. All you need to do is learn how to sleep better.
The psychological benefits of sleep
There has been a lot of research done on the power of sleep. Scientists have found that those who sleep better at night have been found to:
- Have better concentration
- Have enhanced memory
- Focus less on the negative
- Be more creative
- Have a better immune system
- Be better decision makers
As a result of combining all of these, students who sleep better have been found to get higher grades when compared to their sleepy peers. Research shows a difference of half a grade between students who slept well and those who didn’t. Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night can allow students to take full advantage of their school day, as they won’t feel tired. This means that they will take in more information and be more attentive in class, ultimately leading to improved academic performance.
How much sleep is enough sleep?
Chances are, you’re not getting enough sleep. There is no exact answer for how much sleep people need but experts tend to recommend about 7-9 hours a night on average. The amount of sleep you need depends on your age, with adults and older teenagers needing less than children. A recent survey found that most of us are getting less than 6 ¾ hours of sleep each night. In a lot of the schools that we visit to run our workshops, many students say they are getting less than 6.
So how do you know if you are getting enough sleep? Time to take the pillow test…
The Pillow Test: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes states that if you fall asleep within 5 minutes of your head hitting the pillow each night, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Try this tonight and if you notice you’re falling asleep too quickly, make it a priority to get more sleep.
According to the NHS, one in 3 people suffer from poor sleep. It may not seem that important to get enough sleep, but if you continue skimping on sleep, it will eventually catch up to you. Lack of sleep can lead to students feeling grumpy and not working to their full potential. This may have a detrimental impact on their grades and classroom participation.
6 proven ways to help you fall asleep
If you want to become an expert in sleep, we recommend the excellent Richard Wiseman book Night School, as it really is a superb overview of all things sleep related.
In the meantime, there are many tips and tricks you can find on the internet that claim to help you fall asleep fast, from counting sheep to not eating cheese. However, most of them are simply myths with no scientific evidence to support them. If you’re struggling to get enough sleep every night, here are six scientifically proven ways to help you fall asleep fast:
- Have a regular bed time – Getting into a habit of sleeping and waking up at specific times will help keep your body clock consistent. If you wake up early during the week for school or work, try and keep this up on the weekend too. It will help you get into a good routine and you will feel more productive throughout the day.
- Get on your bike – Doing an hour’s exercise two hours before bed will help tire you out, increase blood flow in your arteries and raise your body temperature. Exercise has countless health benefits; simply riding your bike or going for a swim can help you take advantage of them.
- Turn down the brightness on your phone – It is very common to check our phones whilst we’re in bed but it’s not good to do so in a dark room. When the lights are off and the curtains are drawn, the sleep hormone, melatonin, is released. However, the bright light from your phone hinders this from happening, making it more difficult for you to sleep.
- Eat a small turkey and cheese sandwich – This may sound quite random, however, research suggests that turkey, cheese and bread make the perfect sleepy sandwich. This is because they all contain Tryptophan; a helpful amino acid that is important to our sleep cycle.
- Drink cherry juice – Cherries are a natural source of melatonin; the sleep hormone that kickstarts the sleep process. Studies have found that those who drank a glass of cherry juice an hour before bed fell asleep quicker and for longer.
- Take a hot bath – Your body temperature drops when you sleep. You can prompt this sleepy state by taking a warm bath. This will also help relax your muscles and make it easier to fall asleep.
Sleep is one of the most important parts of the day. If we don’t get the recommended amount, the effects trickle into our daily activities, leaving us unmotivated and grumpy. In the same way we prioritise eating 3 meals a day, we should prioritise sleep.
Developing a sleep routine, reducing light from our phones, and exercising are just a few ways to help you sleep. Integrating these steps into your life can help you sleep better and improve your day.
For more about the hidden benefits of sleep, as well as a collection of resources to help you get a better night’s sleep, visit our handy guide.