The Cromwell Lecture 2021: Dr Sophie Bostock

The Power of Sleep (or: What I Wish I’d Known About Sleep When I Was 16)
by Mrs N Howorth, Librarian

A virtual audience of pupils, parents, staff and OFs as well as our wider community were treated to a fascinating talk from Dr. Sophie Bostock (OF) on Tuesday evening. The event was hosted by the Headmaster, who introduced Sophie and fielded questions and answers throughout the live webinar.

Sophie talked about her days at Felsted (when she was Head Girl) and about times in her life where she had ‘crashed and burned’ through ignoring the need for sleep and entering the dangerous cycle where lack of sleep impaired her judgement or affected her health - both mental and physical.

The lecture was tailored to the audience, many of whom had completed a ‘sleep survey’ beforehand. Sophie described the science behind sleep - including the importance of sleep to cleanse the brain and resolve problems. She provided evidence that students who have sufficient sleep during revision will improve their long term retention of information and that 13-17 year olds require 8 - 10 hours of sleep per night. To ensure sufficient sleep it is important to protect the required time plus one extra hour in bed. 

Sleep is critical for the brain and lack of sleep will influence emotional health such as stress and depression as well as moral judgment, risk taking, information processing and memory. Physical health is also adversely affected and lack of sleep can result in increased blood pressure, weight gain and the risk of infection.  Sophie described a ‘perfect storm’ of poor sleep leading to stress, worry, impulsivity, unhelpful coping behaviours, tension, poor performance and emotional problems - all of which can lead to further lack of sleep. 

By identifying barriers to sleep and creating a plan it is possible to strengthen your sleep system. Sophie identified various methods to help with sleeplessness such as working by a window for natural daylight, sticking to a similar time for waking up each morning, avoiding eating close to bedtime, reducing caffeine intake, thought blocking and relaxation techniques. 

I’m sure that the lecture will have been beneficial to all who attended, it is becoming increasingly clear that sleep has been a neglected area of well being,  and we need to take care of our sleep patterns as part of our daily self care. If you missed the event and would like a recording, please email Selina Joslin ( for OFs and Sophy Walker ( for pupils, parents and staff.