What Are the Benefits of Sleeping for Educators?

What Are the Benefits of Sleeping as Self-Care for Educators?

This week, we’re continuing our series on self-care for educators with our 4th most popular answer… SLEEP! Everyone needs to make time for self-care, but when you’re in a challenging and stressful profession like education, it’s even more important to take great care of yourself. Sleep offers a huge range of powerful benefits that will help you feel happier, healthier, and better able to manage the tough task of teaching.

What Are the Benefits of Sleeping?

We all know that when we sleep better, we feel better. But sleep offers plenty of brilliant benefits below the surface too.

Healthier sleep means a healthier you, from boosting your immune system to strengthening your heart. Both your immune system and your heart need rest to function properly. And lack of sleep releases cortisol, a stress hormone that triggers your heart to work harder, sometimes leading to high blood pressure or heart attacks.

Of course, your brain also needs sleep to function at its best. Sleep helps with memory, cognitive thinking, judgment, decision-making, concentration, and problem-solving—all essential skills for educators. Just one week of insufficient sleep can slow your ability to think quickly and clearly, while a week of quality sleep provides a brain boost.

Other important benefits of quality sleep include reduced stress and improved mood. Better sleep helps you manage stress because you avoid the stressors that come with functioning while sleep deprived. It also helps with anxiety, depression, and other mental strains associated with stress. In turn, your mood and energy levels improve.

Plus, sleep increases productivity, athletic performance, and the ability to maintain a healthy weight. So, the answer to the question, “What are the benefits of sleeping?” is a lengthy one. Your heart, body, and mind will thank you. And you’ll have an easier time managing the frequent problem-solving, rapid decision-making, and high stress that comes with being an educator.

Inspiration on Sleep as Self-Care from Our Readers

Recently, we emailed our readers (teachers) asking them to name an act of self-care they had done for themselves in the past week. Of the 273 replies, 29 mentioned the benefits of sleep.

Here are a few of their responses:

  • “My act of self-care was turning off the alarm and sleeping as late as I wanted! Small steps that make you feel like a million are the best.” -Alice S.
  • “One thing I have done the last two days is listening to my body’s sleepiness and going to sleep earlier than normal.” -Dianna Z.
  • “I was exhausted yesterday so I took a 10-minute nap while my husband took care of our toddler. It may not seem like much, but it felt so good!” -Jenn W.
  • “My self-care: a three-hour nap! My body simply shut down and told me to stop, so I did.” -Lynn M.
  • “I slept early for once instead of staying up to do work and it made such a difference!” -Ying M.
  • “My act of self-care was to have a nap. My laundry will still be there tomorrow!” -Jen B.

So, whether you sleep early, sleep in, take a power nap, or nap for hours, sleep is an essential act of self-care for educators. It’s okay to grade the papers, vacuum the carpet, and fold the laundry later. Treat yourself to quality sleep, and it’ll benefit not just you, but your loved ones and your students too.


Tips for Better Sleep

Now we’ve answered the question, “What are the benefits of sleeping?” But what can you do to sleep better?

First, you’ll need to make time for sleep. It helps to plan a consistent bedtime or nap time, then arrange your schedule accordingly. The good thing is that when you make time for sleep, you’ll find that you can accomplish more in less time. You’ll maximize the time that you have each day—so sleeping more ultimately gives you more time, not less.

Next, try the following tips for better sleep:

  • Cultivate peace, quiet, and a pleasant temperature.
  • Use calming natural scents like lavender to help ease you into sleep.
  • Set a fixed bedtime and wake-up night that will give you at least 7-9 hours of sleep. (If your new sleep schedule requires a major adjustment, gradually change your schedule by 1-2 hours nightly.)
  • Avoid napping too late in the day.
  • Wind down 30 minutes before bed by disconnecting from devices and reading, listening to soothing music, or stretching. If possible, dim the lights to help you transition to bedtime.
  • Daily exercise is another way to promote better sleep—and it’s a great form of self-care too!
  • Don’t drink caffeine later in the day and avoid or limit smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Strengthen your brain’s connection between your bed and sleep by keeping other activities out of your bed, like grading papers or watching TV.

Some of these tips might not work for you, so choose a few that sound manageable and give them a try!

Final Thoughts: What Are the Benefits of Sleep?

Sleep isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity for your mental and physical health! Make time to sleep in or go to bed early. Listen to your body and take a nap when you need a break.

Better sleep will improve your energy levels, mood, health, mental functioning, and more while reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. You have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and you deserve rest and relaxation! If it’s hard for you to accept doing something for yourself, remember that when you’re at your best, your loved ones, students, coworkers, and school benefit too.

So, throw on your favorite pair of cozy pajamas, fluff your pillows, grab a warm blanket, and get some rest. Quality sleep is a powerful way to take care of yourself.

Interested in finding out more ways that teachers practice self care? We have also written about the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th most popular ways teachers practice mental health.

I am Kirsten Tulsian, an elementary educator with 18 years of experience as a teacher and counselor. My passion lies in empowering students to discover their inherent brilliance through the use of engaging, rigorous, and meaningful activities. I look forward to connecting with you!

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