The Impact of Sleep Deprivation in Teachers

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi

Dr. Nayantara Santhi holds an academic position at Northumbria University. After completing her Ph.D. at Northeastern University (Boston, MA), she joined the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a post-doctoral fellow to research how sleep and circadian rhythmicity influence our cognitive functioning.

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Last Updated On October 9th, 2023
The Impact of Sleep Deprivation in Teachers

Key Takeaways

  • The Importance of Sleep for Teachers: Sleep plays a vital role in teachers’ cognitive function, mood, and overall performance. Good sleep should be a foundational part of a teacher’s routine to ensure they can effectively educate their students without jeopardizing their health.
  • Impact on Teachers and Students: Sleep deprivation not only affects teachers but also has lasting effects on student learning. Teachers who are sleep-deprived may have difficulty focusing, leading to lower instructional quality. Prioritizing good sleep habits in schools can maximize learning outcomes.
  • Sleep Hygiene Tips for Teachers: To combat sleep deprivation, teachers can take steps to improve their sleep hygiene, including creating a sleep-friendly bedroom environment, avoiding screens before bedtime, limiting caffeine and late-night eating, and establishing calming bedtime routines.

Sleep deprivation affects everyone, but teachers especially. Tired teachers are sleep-deprived due to their long hours in the classroom, grading, and lesson preparation. How can poor sleep affect cognitive function, and how can it be treated? This article discusses how sleep deprivation affects teachers and how they might cope.

“Human cognition is rhythmic and synchronized to our sleep-wake cycle, such that it deteriorates and recovers over wake and sleep, respectively,” says Dr. Nayantara Santhi. “This rhythm is orchestrated by a master clock (circadian) in the brain interacting with a sleep drive. Thus, both how well you sleep and when you sleep are equally important.”

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“Besides helping the body to recover from fatigue by repairing processes, sleep also plays a vital role in neurophysiology, cognitive function, and mood, all of which have implications for teachers’ performance. Therefore, good sleep should be part of the foundation of a teacher’s routine.”

How can teachers be role models if they’re exhausted? Sleep deprivation can cause melancholy, anxiety, heart disease, and stroke. Sleep deprivation also lowers concentration, memory, and work efficiency.

Poor sleep hinders most teachers’ efforts to help their students. It affects them physically, intellectually and their capacity to educate their students. Teachers must understand sleep deprivation and how to manage it to perform at their best every day without jeopardizing their health.

Teacher Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

Teachers sometimes sacrifice sleep to meet job responsibilities. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can harm our mental and physical health. To better understand how sleepy teachers impact classroom instruction, we’ll examine some of the symptoms in this article.

Sleep deprivation causes weariness. This can make it hard to concentrate throughout the day and tire you. We may need help remembering or making decisions as we digest new knowledge. Lack of restful sleep can make us unpleasant and cranky, making even simple tasks daunting. Some may try to sleep at work when they can, but this can only interfere more with falling asleep at night.

Finally, chronic sleep loss can cause sadness and anxiety. Teachers must notice these signals to obtain help before their health worsens. Before things become worse, discuss your exhaustion or irritability with your doctor.

Teacher Sleep Deprivation Causes

Teachers sometimes work long hours, resulting in sleep loss. Planning lectures and grading papers outside work contributes to this lack of rest. Parents and administrators can increase teachers’ workloads. Being on-call for pupils may keep teachers from sleeping well or falling asleep fast.

One 2018 study Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source also linked “experienced failure at work, emotional dissonance and social exclusion” to teachers’ reduced sleep quality. And a 2022 overview Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source reported that between 36 to 61 percent of teachers reported insomnia symptoms.

Teachers can suffer physical and mental health difficulties from not keeping a regular sleep schedule. Exhaustion, poor immunity, and cardiovascular issues can result from sleep loss. It can impair cognition, concentration, and emotional well-being. If teachers get enough sleep, they’ll be able to engage students.

Sleep deprivation also affects instructors’ performance. It can affect their performance and teaching. Without enough sleep, they may have poor concentration, motivation, cognitive functioning, problem-solving, critical decision-making, weariness, and impatience can lower teachers’ teaching quality.

If we want teachers to give pupils a rich education, we must recognize the importance of rest. We must all guarantee that our instructors get enough sleep to avoid burnout and tiredness. Creating and maintaining excellent learning environments requires supporting each other through difficult times.

Sleep Deprivation and Student Learning

Sleep deprivation has lasting effects on student learning. Students who lack focus and attention may also need help remembering class material. Lower grades and academic discontent can result. Teens are particularly susceptible to  sleep loss, though sleep deprivation can occur at all ages.

However, teachers also suffer from sleep deprivation. Teachers may become weary and lose track of classroom events, lowering instructional quality.

Getting enough rest is crucial for instructors and their students. A good night’s sleep helps teachers stay awake, making classes more successful and enjoyable. Schools should prioritize good sleeping habits to maximize learning.

Sleep Hygiene Tips for Teachers

Sleep hygiene is vital since teacher sleep deprivation is a significant public health issue. Teachers must sleep well. Without it, teachers risk sleep deprivation and poor classroom performance. How can instructors optimize sleep?

Teachers must first develop a sleep-friendly environment. The bedroom should be quiet and warm. See our guides to setting up ideal bedrooms for sleep:

They should also avoid digital screens an hour before night and keep their phones out of bed. Avoiding late-night caffeine and not eating late before bed can also improve sleep.

Finally, bedtime routines are crucial. This could include a calming nighttime routine or jotting down daytime stresses before bed. These straightforward actions can help teachers obtain enough restorative sleep each night to operate at their best.

It’s evident that improving teachers’ sleep hygiene is difficult, but it’s attainable with persistence and a consistent sleep schedule. These strategies should help them sleep better and feel more energized at work.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does sleep deprivation affect teachers?

Sleep issues affect both teachers and children frequently. They cause mental health problems and can impair memory, mood swings, attention, and focus, resulting in inferior classroom instruction. It is more difficult to remain composed and behave responsibly when sleepy.

What are the psychological effects of sleep deprivation?

Lack of sleep can impact mental health and lead to a higher risk of increasing existing mood disorders, such as irritability, depression, and anxiety, providing insufficient supervision and worse. It can also cause confusion, exhaustion, and a lack of vigor in teachers.

There is a correlation between these shifts in cognitive performance and even just one night of interrupted sleep.

Why is being a teacher so exhausting?

Teachers put in more hours per week than many other occupations, frequently resulting in negative consequences like stress and burnout. Political concerns, a lack of resources, and work-life balance are just a few contributing variables. Due to a lack of substitute teachers, many are already under pressure with finite time slots for getting the job done.

Why is sleep important for teachers?

Not only does adequate sleep help individuals perform better on the job, but it also makes it easier for them to remember more knowledge. A necessary skill when teaching youngsters. A lack of sleep can also result in various major health concerns, including obesity and diabetes.

What is the best sleep schedule for teachers?

The best schedule that prioritizes sleep for teachers is relatively simple. The human body thrives on rest. A teacher needs at least 6.5 hours, preferably closer to eight hours of sleep per night. It is best to set up a pre-sleep bedtime ritual and go to bed at approximately the same time every night.


Sleep deprivation among teachers is frequent and growing, affecting their health, performance, and student learning. Teachers should know sleep deprivation’s origins, symptoms, effects, and risks. Optimizing sleep, improving sleep hygiene, and examining sleep disorders can help instructors cope with sleep loss.

Teacher and student performance depend on rest. Teachers can improve their task management and student learning by getting more sleep. Getting enough sleep can also help prevent chronic sleep deprivation-related health issues.

Setting a bedtime and wake time helps teachers get enough rest. This maintains the appropriate circadian rhythm of the sleep-wake cycle and trains the body to keep to a consistent sleep schedule. Keeping bedrooms free of TVs and computers also promotes healthy sleep.

Finally, an evening routine can help instructors sleep better. Read before bed or take a hot bath or shower. Calming activities before bedtime can help you fall asleep. These practices can help instructors achieve quality sleep every night.

Ultimately, overcoming sleep deficiency in teachers requires encouraging excellent sleep health. These measures can prevent burnout, boost teacher morale and productivity, and benefit both instructors and kids.

About the author

Eric Ridenour is a health and wellness writer with a strong focus on sleep and nutrition. With a background in health science and psychology, Eric has a deep understanding of the connection between sleep and overall well-being. His expertise has been sought by various businesses and individuals, and his work has been featured in reputable publications such as Thrive Global, Drug Report, and Authority Magazine. Eric's commitment to promoting better sleep and comprehensive wellness is evident in his writing and consultations. He is a published author working on his second book.

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