It’s 12.30pm and I could seriously use a nap. So could my seven-month-old child, the source of my exhaustion. Her attitude is that sleep is for wimps. It’s not. And science backs me up on that. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to rationalise with a baby; they generally don’t pay much attention to a cogent argument. Some would argue that it can be equally difficult to rationalise with school leaders but here’s hoping that they might be more receptive to empirical evidence. Then I might be able to enjoy some sleep when I finally return to school…
Because recent research from the University of Pennsylvania, following hot on the heels of similar findings by the University of Delaware, concludes that naps are good for older children as well as younger ones… I’m throwing adults into the mix for good measure because, let’s face it, the school day tires us all out.
The attention-grabbing summary of the Pennsylvania study is as follows:
Children who nap 30 to 60 minutes midday at least three times a week are happier, have more self-control and grit, and showcase fewer behavioural problems. These children also have higher IQs and excel academically.
British schools are constantly in search of the educational holy grail that achieves all these outcomes and it appears all we had to do was install dorm rooms! Of course, it wouldn’t necessarily be fair if students were the only ones afforded this privilege. Teachers and support staff could have timetable-mandated naps as well.
While many of us baulk at the idea of sleeping on the job, as if it were the height of laziness, this is a culturally-wired reaction that fails to take account of the science of sleep. Spain is famed for its siestas and the economic powerhouse of China also recognises the power of a midday recharge.
A rewiring of minds needn’t even be accompanied by a refit of schools, because I know for a fact that students are perfectly capable of falling asleep at their desks. And I reckon I could do the same. The biggest problem so far as I can see will be squeezing a pillow into my marking bag…
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