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Sweet dreams are made of this: tips to help teachers sleep better

Everyone who has taught for any length of time knows that the 8 am – 3 pm work hours are a myth. Once your students leave the school for the day, there are faculty meetings to attend, lessons to plan, and homework to correct. And class time is no walk in the park either! Keeping 20+ kids interested and engaged in your lessons every day can be mentally exhausting.

With all these daily tasks, plus the attention you dedicate to each of your student’s well being, it’s easy to see why teachers seem part magician. And sometimes, sitting up late marking, worrying about students, or thinking about classroom activities can prevent teachers from getting a good night’s sleep.

Studies show that in general, teachers tend to spend more time than most other professionals worrying about work issues and, as such, the amount of sleep that they get can suffer. And teaching overseas has its own unique set of stressors: you may be away from your family for the first time, or you might be dealing with culture shock. If you don’t get enough sleep each night, it’s easy to become forgetful, irritable, easily annoyed, and easily distracted.

Sleep is necessary to be able to think and react clearly. While we’re sleeping, our brains do some of their most creative problem solving. When we wake up, we have new insights and a fresh take on how to solve these problems. If you’re only sleeping on average 6 hours per night, you’re starving your brain of important cognitive processing time.

If you can increase the amount of sleep that you get each night from less than 6 hours to more than 8 hours, studies show that this can promote memory retention by 25% and can restore your emotional calm and your ability to teach effectively.

So how can you do this, you ask? We’ve compiled some tips below:

  • Set a regular bedtime and wake time every day — and stick to it. Having a schedule gets your body and mind into a specific rhythm.

  • Exercise regularly — it helps regulate your stress responses and can help you cope better with tough situations.

  • Avoid anything that contains caffeine 2 hours (or more) before bed: tea, coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, daytime cold medication.

  • Keep your bedroom at a cooler temperature, it’s more conducive with sleep.

  • Try a warm shower or bath before bed, or any other standard routine behavior like reading a book.

  • Increase your light exposure during the day. You can do this by taking your lunch breaks outside and giving yourself more natural light.

  • Increase your melatonin production at night by turning off your TV and computer earlier than you currently do. Try not use laptops or handheld devices in your bedroom at all because not only do they repress melatonin production, but they stimulate the mind, keeping you up at night.

  • Try to quit smoking. Smoking can make it hard to sleep because nicotine is a stimulant and smokers can experience nicotine withdrawal throughout the night.

Sweet dreams!


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