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Night, Night; Sleep Tight

A good night’s sleep

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider the importance of having a good night’s sleep.

Preparation and materials


  1. I wonder who slept well last night. Hands up if you can claim that you enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

  2. Plenty of people struggle to sleep well. Let’s watch a short video of two people who certainly haven’t had a good night’s sleep.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Homer snoring’.

  3. Show Slide 1.

    When we haven’t slept well, we might look and feel a bit like this! A lack of sleep can be really difficult to cope with. At times, some corrupt regimes have used sleep deprivation as a form of torture, or as a method of weakening suspects who are about to be interviewed or interrogated. The United Nations is clear that this is an unethical and unacceptable way to treat anyone because it is harmful to our health and well-being.

  4. Today, we are going to be thinking about the idea of sleep and rest, why it matters so much and how we can take steps to improve our sleep health.

  5. Sleep is a really important part of our life. It helps us to feel well, focused and happy. Most people experience a bad night’s sleep now and again, but if we regularly don’t get enough sleep, it can really affect how we feel and what we can get done during the day.

  6. On average, teenagers need between eight and ten hours of sleep per night to remain healthy. However, everyone is different, and the amount of sleep that we need might differ from what our friends need. In general, though, good sleep habits have been shown to improve mood, concentration and performance at school and at work. They may also help to control overeating and prevent obesity. Lack of sleep is linked to symptoms of depression such as feeling down, hopeless or irritable, having suicidal thoughts and using alcohol or other drugs.

  7. Show Slides 2 and 3.

    Let’s take a look at some of the latest research about the impact on our health and well-being of missing sleep.

    For every hour of sleep that we miss, there is:

    - a 14 per cent increase in the risk of unpleasant emotions or feelings that affect day-to-day function
    - a 38 per cent increase in the chance of feeling sad and hopeless

    Alongside this, long-term lack of sleep can affect our overall physical health and make us prone to serious medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

  8. Show Slide 4.

    So, what gets in the way of a good night’s sleep? This is a complicated question to answer. It’s easy to blame social media, smartphones and so on, and they do have a role to play in distracting us from healthy sleep. However, there are many other factors too.

    For young people, not getting enough sleep might be caused by:

    - biological factors such as puberty or changes in our body clocks
    - environmental factors such as social pressure, school workload, use of electronic devices or consumption of caffeinated energy drinks

  9. Let’s consider some helpful and practical tips to help us to get some good-quality sleep.

    All of the following tips come from the NHS website and from

  10. Show Slide 5.

    Sleep at a regular time. Going to bed and getting up at a regular time helps our bodies to get into a routine. Even if we haven’t slept that well, it’s important to try to wake up at the same time every day - even at the weekends! Although it might seem like a good idea to try to catch up on sleep after a bad night, doing so on a regular basis can disrupt our sleep routine.

  11. Show Slide 6.

    Wind down as preparation for a good night’s sleep. There are lots of ways to relax.

    - Lying in a warm (not hot) bath will help our body to reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest.
    - Writing a to-do list for the next day can organize our thoughts and clear our mind of any distractions.
    - Doing some gentle stretches can help to relax our body. We should avoid vigorous exercise before bed, though, because this wakes the body up.
    - Reading a book.

    We should avoid using smartphones, tablets or other electronic devices for an hour or so before we go to bed because the light from the screen may have a negative effect on sleep.

  12. Show Slide 7.

    Make our bedroom sleep-friendly. We should aim for our bedroom to be a relaxing environment. At bedtime, our room should be dark, quiet, tidy and kept at a temperature of 18-24°C.

  13. Show Slide 8.

    Get outside in the daytime. Natural sleep cycles are based on our body clock, which is mainly set by when we’re exposed to light. We should aim to be outside for 30 minutes, or at least sit by a bright window in the daytime. Exercising outside during the day is also a good way to make us tired at night. As late afternoon and evening approaches, our body needs less stimulation, so we could try dimming the lights.

  14. Show Slide 9.

    Find a way to deal with worries. At night, when we are lying in bed, our mind can turn to worrying and anxious thoughts. This can greatly disrupt sleep. Find a way to commit to putting aside the problem or worry until morning, and then taking action in the daytime. We can do this by writing a simple sentence on a notepad about the thing that we’re worried about. Then, we can tell ourselves, ‘I will deal with that in the morning.’ A good way to deal with a worry is to seek support from someone else: here at school, we can speak to (insert names of appropriate pastoral support staff) if we are worried about something.

Time for reflection

Let’s reflect on what we have explored today.

Rest is an important idea in many religious beliefs and traditions around the world. For centuries, people have understood that rest, sleep and relaxation are part of caring for our bodies.

In Judaism and Christianity, there is the idea of a day of rest: a day to relax and recharge our batteries.

Many religious traditions - including Islam, Christianity and Judaism - see our bodies as part of God’s creation. They regard care for our health as an act of stewardship and respect for God’s creation.

The Bible contains a description of Jesus taking a nap and resting: in Mark’s gospel, we read, ‘Jesus was in the boat, sleeping with his head on a pillow.’

For these reasons, rest – including sleep – can be part of the way in which we express our faith. Looking after ourselves and investing in our own health is an act of self-belief too: believing that we matter and that we benefit from self-care.

Let’s think about what we can do to take one simple step towards greater self-care: to get a good night’s sleep.

What changes can we make today to help us with the goal of better sleep?

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the following questions.

- What do we want to commit to stop doing to help our sleep?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- What do we want to do less of to help our sleep?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- What do we want to start doing to help our sleep?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- What do we want to do more of to help our sleep?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
We have learnt that sleep is a fundamental aspect of our health and well-being.
Sometimes, we struggle to sleep, or to sleep well.
We can feel tired and fed up, and our health begins to suffer.
It can be hard, sometimes, to do the things that we know are likely to help with our sleep.
Knowing what works is not always the same as doing what works.
Today, we pray for wisdom and courage to make small, simple steps towards better sleep.
Grant us calm minds and tired bodies at the end of today.
Help us to find ways to feel calm, at peace and rested when we wake to a new day.


You may wish to play some relaxing music as part of the assembly. Examples include:

- ‘12 hours of relaxing music’, available at:
- ‘8 hours of relaxing sleep music for stress relief’, available at:

Publication date: April 2021   (Vol.23 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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