Sleep. A natural activity that every human has done since birth. Yet why is it that as teachers we can find this valuable commodity is something that we are missing out on?
On average, people need 8 hours sleep at night to be fully rested and ready for the day. For some its 6 hours, for others it’s 10 hours; whatever is your optimum amount, it is likely that as teacher you have had to forfeit some sleep over the year to fit in the myriad of tasks that are assigned to teachers. Planning, marking, worrying about vulnerable students, preparing for observations, attending meetings, parent’s evenings… it’s no wonder that sometimes rest and sleep can slip further down the to-do list. But it is essential that sleep is near the top of that list.
Essential for your Mind
Teaching is a job that requires teachers to be able to think clearly, react quickly and remember a long list of things to do. The mental agility that is needed to process information quickly, move seamlessly from one topic to another each lesson and be energised, enthusiastic and encouraging is something that relies on your body getting adequate rest each night. Lack of sleep can cause concentration problems, drowsiness and forgetfulness, not to mention irritability. All of these things are the enemy to the efficiency needed as a teacher.
Essential for your Appearance
There’s a reason why they call it ‘Beauty Sleep’! Losing out on sleep will leave you looking tired and drawn with eye bags big enough to carry those books home to mark! Sleep deprivation causes your body to increase the production of steroids, which in turn decreases the production of collagen, which causes skin to thin and wrinkle. All those fancy creams and lotions won’t be able to help if you are consistently burning the midnight oil and depriving your body of much needed rest in order to rejuvenate mentally and physically.
Essential for your Health
Sleep is as important as food and exercise when it comes to your health and wellbeing. Sleep restriction can be the cause of weight gain and obesity. Lack of sleep will mean that your body will crave foods to give it energy and if this is coupled with a less than nutritious diet and perhaps a lack of exercise too, this can leave you sluggish and carrying the extra pounds. But it isn’t just diet that can be affected by reduced rest hours. Links have also been found to more serious conditions such as strokes, heart conditions, high blood pressure and depression. Making sure you get the right sleep will improve your immune function and hopefully help you to avoid illness in the long run.
Rest and Rejuvenation
So what can you do to combat these worrying symptoms of sleep loss? See below for some handy hints and tips for you to beat the eye bags:
- Try to hit that average sleep amount of 8 hours.
For most people, this will be enough to keep you in tip-top form, both mentally and physically, but you can be flexible with this if your body needs more or less. You should be waking up feeling refreshed.
- Try to keep a regular sleep schedule – even on weekends!
A regular sleep pattern is essential to encourage healthy sleeping habits and to make sure your body is consistency and regularly getting what it needs. As lovely as lie ins are on a weekend, your body will be much healthier if it has consistency and routine.
- Bedtime routines
It sounds like this is for children, doesn’t it? But having a familiar routine will mean your body knows that it is time to start winding down ready for rest. This might be a nice warm bath before bed, a few pages of a book or your favourite TV programme before you settle down for the night. Try to avoid using a tablet, phone or laptop right before bed time. The blue light emitted from screens has been proven to stimulate the brain and that’s the last thing you want before you settle down to sleep!
- Brain dump!
You’ll know it well: you’ve just clicked off the light, you snuggle down and your breathing starts to slow… but suddenly, your brain starts to work through the different events of the day, the things you need to do tomorrow, the marking that you brought for a trip out in the boot of the car for the night… Before these thoughts can be given chance to keep you awake, jot them down on a notebook by the bed so that you can relax properly and address them when you wake up in the morning.
- Be sensible about sleep
Often, we can be our own worst enemies in terms of giving ourselves a break, but sleeping isn’t cheating! Although it can seem important to stay up to get through those books or to analyse that data, be your own conscientious friend and be honest with yourself about what is an acceptable amount to complete and when you need to stop. Teaching is a job that is like a sponge: it can just keep taking more and more of your time and resources, so make sure you are strict with yourself about sticking to routines and rest times. After all, your short term success, long term health and your students depend on it!
Follow us on Twitter (@TwinklEnglish) and Facebook (Twinkl Secondary English Group) in January for hints and tips about improving your wellbeing in 2019 and some useful resources to save you time for some you-time!
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