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Did you have enough sleep last night?

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To show students the importance of getting enough sleep.

Preparation and materials

  • Find some soothing meditative music of your choice and have the means to play it at the end of the assembly.


  1. Did you get enough sleep last night? Four hours, eight hours, somewhere in the middle?

    The recommended amount of sleep for a teenager is between 8.5 and 9.5 hours and, for adults, it’s between 7 and 9. Now, have a quick think and consider whether or not you managed to get enough sleep. If you came into assembly thinking that you might have a little doze rather than listening to me, the answer is probably ‘No’.

  2. Newborns sleep for anywhere between 16 and 17 hours a day (not usually at night, I might add), but, as you grow up, you slowly lose the need for so much sleep. Yet sleep is essential for humans. It allows us to function. Sleep deprivation makes people disorientated and they lose all sense of reason, reality, often feel very spaced out and are unable to function on even what is sometimes a very basic level. Ask any parents of a newborn baby and they would probably be brutally honest with you and say that they feel less than human. There is a very real reason sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture across the centuries. At some point, you get so tired you would do anything to be allowed to sleep.

  3. It might feel like wasted time, but, as we have heard, sleep is essential for all humans. Even Jesus, who, Christians believe, is the Son of God, needed to sleep at some point. As, they also believe, he was fully human, he needed to satisfy the human need for time to rest and recuperate. Jesus even managed to sleep during a storm, until he was rudely awoken by a bunch of frightened disciples.

  4. There are also times when human beings need to be able to stay awake. For example, if a soldier falls asleep when he is on watch, it could lead to dire consequences for himself and his comrades. Similarly, doctors and nurses on a night shift need to stay awake when the rest of us are asleep so that we can have 24-hour medical care should we need it.

  5. You may recall an example of when Jesus needed his friends to stay awake and they didn’t. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, he asked a few of his disciples to stay awake and wait for him while he prayed. They could not and succumbed to the need to sleep. Jesus felt disappointed and let down that his disciples could not stay awake ‘even for an hour’, but this only further highlights how important sleep is for us.

  6. You will know yourself that if you haven’t had enough sleep, a day at school is difficult. Also, if you need sleep, you can fall asleep just about anywhere. I confess that when I was at school, I once fell asleep during an A level history lesson. I also watched as one of my classmates had to be woken in a lesson by an English teacher once. So, although Jesus was disappointed, I doubt very much if he was surprised.

Time for reflection

It is important for us all to try and get a good night’s sleep in order that we can fulfil our potential and perform to the best of our ability in the day. Sleep is essential, for humans and all animals. So, when you look at the time and it’s 11 p.m. and you are still on a social networking site or still revising, maybe it is time to shut the computer down or turn off the phone, close the book and get the sleep that you need to enable your body to repair itself. You might find that the next day goes better because you have taken the time to recharge your batteries. 

Dear Lord,
Thank you for helping me.
Thank you for helping my friends.
Thank you for all the good things you give.


Soothing meditative music of your choice.

Publication date: January 2014   (Vol.16 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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