Sleeping Students

by Howard Gerber on June 21, 2011

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Should you let your students nap? The answer may surprise you. Many teens are not getting nearly enough sleep during the school week. They are averaging a bit more than 7 hours each night while they typically need more than 9. There are several reasons for this that range from basic biology to increased demands and opportunities for stimulation. The end result, regardless of the reason, is that teens are more exhausted and they have even more difficulty in class than if they are fully alert.

Begin to educate students about the health benefits of sleeping and teach them more about how to know if they are getting enough sleep, how to increase the amount of sleep they do get, and how to power nap.

What is Enough Sleep?

Teach students the signs that indicate they are not getting enough sleep. If they have trouble waking up in the morning, find it difficult to concentrate, fall asleep in class, or feel more anxious and depressed than usual they may not be getting enough sleep.

Fall Asleep

If they determine they are not getting enough sleep help them determine the cause and find ways to get more sleep. Routines are important in all aspects of a child’s life, including bedtimes. While most older children and teenagers don’t want to acknowledge their need for structure, a regular bedtime can teach their bodies to go to sleep at a specific time. Regular exercise and an avoidance of stimulants a few hours before bed can also improve sleep patterns. Low light levels, a cool room, and a quiet environment can also increase a student’s ability to fall asleep.

Power Nap

Naps are tricky. A power nap can help a student become more alert and retain information better. However, excessive napping can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, which will increase fatigue the following day. Naps are an option if they are done properly; however, they should not be seen as a free pass to sleep all day during time that should be used for instruction.

Should you let your students nap? Yes, naps aren’t just for small children. They are beneficial to people of all ages, as long as they are limited to about 20 minutes. Of course, all things should be done in moderation, but if a child has study hall, this can easily be worked into their accommodations. Even with the push for constant achievement, looking for ways to slow down in school may actually help student’s increase educational gains.

Would you let a student nap in your classroom or write naps into an IEP?

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