It’s no secret that quality sleep is crucial for all aspects of waking life. Sleep deprivation impacts cognitive functions, emotional regulation, and overall health. All of these can affect performance in the classroom and educational outcomes for students.

However the secret to good sleep can feel much more elusive at times. Luckily there’s some simple, everyday steps you can take to help improve your quality and quantity of sleep. The self care required for a solid night’s sleep can have far reaching benefits to all aspects of your life.

10 Tips for Better Sleep for Teachers

1. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Teachers find themselves navigating daily demands of lesson preparation, grading, and student engagement, making it easy for sleep to take a back seat. However, setting a consistent sleep routine can be a game-changer.

By going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, you can “maintain the appropriate circadian rhythm of the sleep-wake cycle and train the body to keep to a consistent sleep schedule” (Ridenour & Santhi 2023). This routine not only enhances cognitive function and concentration but also fosters emotional resilience – crucial attributes for effective teaching.

2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

A relaxing bedtime routine can be the remedy to the day’s stressors. It’s a gentle transition from the demanding classroom to the serene realm of rest. Whether it’s indulging in a chapter of a favorite book, practicing calming meditation, or sipping on a soothing cup of (decaf) tea, a bedtime ritual signals to the body that it’s time to unwind and embrace tranquility.

Creating a relaxing bedtime routine is a form of self-care that you can weave into your daily life. As your mind indulges in calming activities, the stress of the day dissipates, and you can enter dreamland with a sense of serenity, ready to wake up rejuvenated for another day of shaping young minds.

2. Avoid Caffeine Before Bed

Caffeine can be an utter lifesaver as you power through your daily responsibilities. However, as the day winds down, the wisdom of limiting stimulants before bedtime becomes increasingly apparent. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and certain sodas, is a notorious sleep disruptor, with its stimulating effects lingering in the system for hours (, 2018).

Swapping out that late-night cup of coffee for a calming herbal tea or choosing decaffeinated options can make a world of difference. By respecting your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, you can help ensure that when bedtime arrives, the transition to a peaceful night’s sleep is not thwarted by the lingering effects of stimulants.

4. Limit Screen Time

In the modern era of education where technology plays a central role in teaching and administrative tasks, it’s become a common habit for teachers to wind down their day by scrolling through digital screens. However, the glow of phones, tablets, and computers emits a blue light that can significantly disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

Dr. Joanna A Cooper explains, “The timing of sleep and wakefulness is controlled by two areas in the brain. One is highly sensitive to light and drives wakefulness, while the other, called the pineal gland, secretes the sleep hormone melatonin when the light dims in the evening.”

By disconnecting from screens and engaging in calming activities such as reading a book, practicing mindfulness, or enjoying a warm bath, you can signal to your body that it’s time to prepare for a restful night’s sleep.

5. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

To optimize rest, teachers should prioritize creating a comfortable sleep environment. This involves attention to details like investing in a supportive mattress and pillows, adjusting room temperature for optimal comfort, and ensuring the bedroom is free from unnecessary disturbances (Zakarin, PHD, 2022).

By thoughtfully curating your sleep space, you not only enhance the physical comfort necessary for rest but also create a mental retreat for relaxation. As your body sinks into a comfortable bed and the mind decompresses in a soothing environment, you set the stage for a night of truly restorative sleep, equipping you to face the rigors of the classroom with renewed vigor each day.

6. Manage Stress

Managing stress effectively is not only crucial for maintaining mental and emotional well-being but is also integral to securing a good night’s sleep (Zakarin, PHD, 2022). Teachers should prioritize stress management strategies to create a healthier balance in their lives. This might involve incorporating mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises, into their daily routine to alleviate the pressures of the day (Delaney, 2018).

By proactively addressing stress through targeted strategies, you can create a mental and emotional buffer, ensuring that as bedtime approaches, you are better equipped to leave the day’s challenges behind. A stress-resilient mindset not only contributes to improved sleep quality but also empowers you to face the next day’s endeavors with greater clarity and composure.

7. Limit Naps

When it comes to ensuring a solid night’s sleep, teachers might want to keep daytime siestas in check. While a brief nap can provide a quick energy boost and enhance alertness, indulging in lengthy or late-afternoon naps can disrupt the delicate balance needed for a restful night’s sleep.

Limiting the duration and timing of naps is key to preserving the sanctity of nighttime sleep. By keeping naps brief and taking them earlier in the day, you can strike a balance between staying energized during teaching hours and ensuring your nighttime sleep remains undisturbed and rejuvenating.

8. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity has a profound impact on sleep quality and overall well-being. Teachers who incorporate exercise into their routine often find themselves reaping the benefits of more restful nights. In fact moderate to vigorous exercise can help improve quality of sleep, decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and help avoid daytime sleepiness (Pacheco & Singh, 2023).

Exercise also contributes to better sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing stress, both of which are critical for winding down after a day in the classroom (Pacheco & Singh, 2023). Teachers who make exercise a consistent part of their routine not only enjoy the immediate perks of increased energy and mood but also set the stage for more restful nights.

9. Eat Mindfully

For teachers aiming for better sleep, being mindful of eating habits before bedtime is a small yet impactful adjustment. Late-night snacks that are heavy, spicy, or high in caffeine can disrupt the body’s digestive process and lead to discomfort, potentially sabotaging a restful night (Sen & Ford, 2023).

If you are looking to optimize your sleep, consider adopting a mindful approach to evening eating. Opting for lighter, easily digestible snacks, such as a small serving of yogurt or a handful of nuts, can satisfy late-night cravings without burdening the digestive system. Foods like cherries, walnuts, bananas, oats, and tomatoes even contain melatonin for a natural boost of sleepiness (Sen & Ford, 2023).

10. Communicate Boundaries

Teachers should prioritize open communication about their need for proper sleep, setting clear boundaries to protect their well-being. Whether it’s discussing expectations with colleagues, administrators, or even family members, conveying the importance of a consistent sleep schedule is a crucial step towards fostering a supportive environment.

Creating space for proper sleep involves setting firm boundaries around work hours and resisting the temptation to bring work home every night. You should emphasize the significance of a good night’s sleep not just for your own sake but for the benefit of your students as well (Ridenour & Santhi 2023).

In the relentless pursuit of educational excellence, educators often find themselves sacrificing sleep for the sake of their students. However, understanding the symbiotic relationship between quality sleep and professional performance is crucial. By prioritizing rest, educators not only invest in their own well-being but also contribute to the creation of a vibrant, nurturing learning environment.

Works Cited