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Sleep: Teachers

Sleep Essentials for Educators

Kid sleeping on books

Why do we sleep? What is the role of sleep in learning and memory? This fascinating site from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School will give you a glimpse into current sleep science, natural patterns of sleep, and the impact of sleep on student learning.

The Science of Sleep from National Geographic is a fascinating look at the journey our minds take while we sleep, with engaging graphics and photographs. If you are teaching about sleep, you'll want to take a look at this article.

Learn more about sleep and the brain at How Sleep Works and How Dreams Work.

The American Sleep Association offers a good overview of the dynamic nature of sleep, the stages of sleep, sleep deprivation, dreams and circadian rhythms.

Sun and moon

Mysteries of Sleep, from NOVA/PBS, highlights research on how sleep helps children learn verbal skills. Research also shows that sleep is critical for forming motor-memory skills in teens and adults. You may also be interested in research from National Institute of Health on the impact of screen media on sleep quality.

Are you a lark or an owl? Is being a morning or evening person built into our genes, or can it be changed?

Teens and Sleep from UCLA Health and Sleep Deprivation Among Teens from Stanford Medical School contain important information for secondary-level teachers.

Learn more about the science behind dreaming from Scientific American.

Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities

KidsHealth has sleep information for elementary and secondary students, along with links to topics such as nightmares, snoring, sleep problems, and technology. Teacher guides include lesson plans, sleep logs and worksheets for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

Kid yawning

Educator resources from the American Academy of Sleep include lessons plans and interactives for grades 3-12.

Spot-on Science: Catching Zzz's from PBS Learning Media features a sleep specialist discussing her work and the science behind sleep.

Sleep Education for School offers classroom resources and standards-aligned lessons plans for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

Why Do We Need Sleep and Why Do We Dream, from SciShow Kids videos, explore what happens when we sleep.

Teaching Kids to Recharge Their Bodies offers lessons and resources for grades K-2 and 3-5, including slideshows and a fun song.

This sleep deprivation game for the classroom is designed to teach students the effects of sleep on the brain and what happens when they don't get enough sleep.

All About Sleep is a leveled reader for grades 2-3 that allows students to practice reading along with the narrator and then on their own.

Super Sleep is a lesson plan for younger students that includes a handout for parents.

Sleep for Kids, a website for elementary students, also has a classroom guide for teachers. You may also want to look at this compilation of links to sleep lesson plans and videos.

Combine science with language arts using this ELA practice assessment where students read nonfiction sources about sleep and respond in writing.

As students grow from childhood into adolescence, sleep understanding and habits may change. Teachers of grades 6 and above may want to check out these resources:

Kid sleeping at desk

More Sleep Resources for Teachers

Sleep for Kids is a great website for elementary students. They will learn about how and why we sleep, sleep cycles, dreams, and more. Also included are sleep calculators, a sleep diary, a quiz, and games and puzzles. The pages can be printed and compiled into an instructional packet for classroom use.

Does your body shut down for sleep? Do horses sleep standing up? Do fish close their eyes when they sleep? Do animals dream? Can you get too much sleep? Why do people walk and talk in their sleep? Wonderopolis is a great place to send curious kids who have questions.

Neuroscience for Kids has good information about sleep to use with your students, as well as hands-on sleep experiments they can try out for themselves.

Secrets of Sleep from Arizona State University's Ask a Biologist series explores the biology of sleep, the reasons for sleep, and the science of sleep study, including EEG recordings of different stages of sleep. Who Needs Sleep Anyway? discusses the process of the sleep research, and invites students to consider possible questions for further research.

Dog Asleep

Learning about animals' sleep habits is a fun topic for elementary students. Sleep Education's Animals and Sleep page includes information and videos, as well as a comparison bar graph. Neuroscience for Kids offers a chart showing that time spent sleeping ranges from 1.9 hours per day (giraffe) to 19.9 (brown bat). And National Geographic's Surprising Ways That Animals Sleep includes wonderful photographs of sleeping animals all over the world

Find links to sleep science topics at BBC Science.

The Home-School Connection

Since children cannot directly improve their sleep habits at school, ensuring healthy sleep for students is primarily the parents' job. The following resources may be appropriate for sharing with parents.

From the UCLA Sleep Center, information on Sleep and Children and Sleep and Teens may be helpful.

Person looking at phone in bed

KidsHealth has some excellent resources designed for parents. You may want to share Kids and Sleep, Sleep and Your School-Aged Child, or Sleep and Your Teen.

The impact of TV, computer, and smartphone screens on children's sleep is a subject of continued scientific research. You may wish to encourage parents to prioritize sleep by limiting evening exposure to electronic devices and keeping devices out of kids' bedrooms.

Sleep For Kids has useful information, tips and links for parents.

This handout for parents may be helpful following a classroom lesson on sleep

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