Senior Headmaster’s Blog: The importance of sleep

It seems appropriate as we end this half term to reflect on our recent Cromwell Lecture about the importance of sleep, delivered by OF Dr Sophie Bostock.  If someone were selling a miracle drug that could improve mental wellbeing, physical health, intelligence, delay ageing, and reduce risk of a range of health conditions, we would all be rushing to the pharmacy to get our pills.

The reality is that there is no tablet that can do all these things, but if we can get our sleeping habits right, this will have a positive impact in all these areas of our lives.  
After Felsted (Sophie was in Garnetts, and was Head Girl and Captain of Hockey), Sophie studied medicine at Nottingham University, and her medical background has helped to make her a leading expert in the science of sleep (click here to visit her website). With practical steps that we can all try to take to improve our sleep habits, this was a talk that should make all of us think about why we don't give greater importance to the time when we close our eyes at the end of the day.  Margaret Thatcher famously 'thrived' on just four hours sleep a night, and to some extent, that figure became linked to the hard working, competitive culture of the Thatcher years.  The legacy of that culture still lives on, and many of us would still equate too much time asleep as time wasted.  The message that Sophie gave us was that rather than being time wasted, proper sleep is an essential way of helping our bodies and brains to function at their best for as many years as possible.  

I am not quite sure how this fits into promoting good sleeping patterns, but Sophie is also about to undertake the challenge of rowing round the coast of Great Britain, in support of the British Heart Foundation.  If you are interested in supporting this incredible effort, please do click on this link to find out more.
I would like to thank the Upper Sixth and Year 11 who have done so well during this half term, despite ongoing pressures of assessments.  I know that it hasn't been easy for them, and the uncertainty surrounding the process has made this even more difficult, but they can be proud of the way in which they have responded - just getting on and doing the best that they can.  
Similarly, the teaching staff, who have had to become examiners, markers and moderators, on top of the normal workload (plus additional Covid measures) really must be applauded for getting through so much in this half term.  After a challenging year, both pupils and staff have found the energy and motivation to do an exceptional job, and I wish all a restful half term.
Thank you, and sleep well.
Chris Townsend

The Cromwell Lecture review by Mrs Nichola Howorth, Librarian


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