Sleep and the early years of school: early primary teachers



  • sleep teachers

     

    As teachers, you are not with the children in your classroom when it’s their bedtime. However, you will see the effects the next day if children arrive at school without having had the amount and the quality of sleep that they need.

     

    The effects of a lack of sleep

    Without enough sleep, children can be moody, irritable and cranky. They can be more easily upset and have difficulty regulating their emotions.

    In terms of learning behaviour in the classroom, lack of sleep is linked to behavioural problems such as an inability to concentrate, refusal to follow instructions and generally restless behaviour.

    Not getting enough sleep also impacts on children’s ability to remember, pay attention, react in a timely way, make decisions and act creatively – all essential for life and learning.

    Supporting kids to get the amount of sleep and the sort of quality sleep they need can help them to be healthier, happier and better learners in the classroom. 

    Also in this edition of Grow & Thrive:

    Sleep – essential for life and learning

    Helping young children to get quality sleep: early childhood educators

    Helping your child get the sleep they need: parents  

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    Improving children’s sleep habits from the classroom

    As a teacher, you can support the children in your classroom to improve their sleep at home – and that doesn’t mean you need to be there with them.

    The Sleep Well–Be Well study aimed to measure whether a sleep education program in classrooms would help to improve children’s sleep problems in the first year of school. It also aimed to measure whether improving children’s sleep could have flow-on benefits for child behaviour and learning.

    The study showed that a simple program that aimed to intervene in poor sleep behaviour and was delivered in classrooms, could reduce child sleep problems and improve child and parent health.

    Establishing good sleep habits was an important part of the Sleep Well–Be Well recommendations to parents. This meant:

    • putting a regular bedtime in place. For 5 and 6-year-old children, 7.30pm is a good bedtime
    • having a regular wake up time; having the same or similar bedtime and wake-up time on school days and weekends is important
    • avoiding caffeine. Not many children drink tea and coffee, but cola drinks, Milo-type drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine and can have a big effect on children’s ability to go to sleep and stay asleep
    • ensuring the bedroom is cool, quiet and relatively dark
    • avoiding all stimulating activities for the hour before bed, such as TV and computer games – both console and handheld devices
    • keeping the bedroom media free, no TVs or computer games.

    If you’d like to find out more about supporting children in your classroom to get the best sleep they can, you can read more information about the study on the Sleep Well–Be Well study website.

    If you’re concerned about the sleep habits of a child in your classroom, you might like to share the Grow & Thrive parent fact sheet with their parents or caregivers.

    Also in this edition of Grow & Thrive:

    Sleep – essential for life and learning

    Helping young children to get quality sleep: early childhood educators

    Helping your child get the sleep they need: parents   

    Sign up to the Grow & Thrive newsletter