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Amy is a Primary Teacher working in schools in London through Protocol Education. Amy is able to get by on only 6 hours sleep, which is what most of our teachers get. 

Sleep is a topic I always seem to be discussing. Like weather, sleep can be talked about by British people ad nauseum and is a staff-room perennial. Only today I overheard two teachers having a lunchtime chat about their lack of sleep last night.

Unlike weather, sleep is not without controversy or the propensity for smugness or judgement. We easily fall into two camps; people who claim they are unable to function without eight hours a night and those who seem to manage healthily on five or six.

I fall into the latter of these having never been much of a sleeper since childhood (apparently I stopped sleeping afternoon naps at a couple of months old) I never had a fixed bedtime growing-up, because if I was sent to bed, I invariably didn’t sleep. Today I sleep between five and seven hours a night on a regular basis, allowing myself a lie-in at the weekend.

“You only have six hours sleep!” I can almost hear the gasp. “But I need at least… (add upwards of nine hours) to function properly!”

I never know how to respond to this. Going to bed early is the sign of an organised life with strong self-control. My six hours sound like the product of a haphazard existence, of late nights out or intemperate telly habits. I usually stammer something about Mrs Thatcher’s five-hour nights and Churchill’s even shorter ones. The fact is that I can’t sleep and won’t sleep unless it is past midnight.

Us non-sleepers are not free of prejudice either; I used to groan at my housemate at university for going to bed at half-past nine every night. Her sleeping habits meant that the television had to be turned down, music had to stop and the rest of us had to tiptoe around the house for fear of incurring her wrath. My friend’s sleeping habits annoyed us because in some way they made us feel like slackers. Even though I often stayed up until far into the small hours writing short stories or doing coursework, tapping away on a keyboard felt like an illicit activity after 2am.

In my thirties, my sleep habits have changed little. I however feel compelled to take myself off to bed by midnight, as it somehow sounds more respectable. Waking up just a little sleepy seems to suit me and I gain momentum on my commute to school. Last night I had an unusually early night and woke up all fuzzy and over-rested. This feeling kept me in a blanket-like daze for the entire morning and tonight I promise not to go to bed too early!

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Tags: AmyC, LondonWest, sleep, teacher, rest, functioning, ability,

Category: Australian Teachers

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