Best Practice

The importance of sleep

All teachers know that tired students make for poor learners. John Dabell looks at what the research tells us about why sleep is a fundamental part of the thinking and learning process

Without a good night’s sleep, our alertness, cognitive function, psycho-motor coordination and mood all go out the window. Our concentration and memory are noticeably affected and we get grumpy. Indeed, a lack of sleep is major risk factor for mistakes and poor decision-making.

Tiredness directly affects our productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even our weight. It compromises our cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections. There is also a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behaviour.

Indeed, neuroscientist Matthew Walker in Why We Sleep (2017) and clinical psychologist Vicki Culpin in The Business of Sleep (2018) warn that regularly sleeping less than seven hours a night is a disaster for our mental and physical wellbeing.

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