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The Importance of Sleep

Published on 22/06/18

According to Guinness World Records, the record for the number of jalapeno chillies eaten in one minute is sixteen. This feat was achieved by Alfredo Hernandes on 17 September 2006 in Chicago, USA.

The most chainsaw juggling catches is 94 and was achieved by Ian Stewart in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada on 25 September 2011. Ian used 3 Zenoah G2000T chainsaws which were fully engaged during the attempt, as per the guidelines. He took just 37 seconds.

If you search Guinness World Records for the longest someone has gone without sleep, however, you will no longer find these records listed. This is because going without sleep for days is considered too dangerous. This was one of the fascinating insights provided by Emma Gleadhill during her recent Claremont Fan Court School Parent Talk on the importance of sleep and good sleep hygiene. Emma reminded us that sleep deprivation is a widely recognised form of torture and it is sobering to think that sleep deprivation would probably kill someone more quickly than food deprivation. Despite this, only a small proportion of the population regularly get the 7-9 hours of sleep recommended for good health. No one at the Parent Talk, or the staff workshop which Emma led earlier in the day, admitted to achieving this much sleep on a regular basis.

Falling asleep should take about fifteen minutes. If you are asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow (or as soon as you arrive in my geography lesson), this could be a sign of sleep deprivation. Emma recommended setting an alarm to remind you when it is time to start preparing for bed. If you attended Aric Sigman’s Parent Talk earlier in the year you will know that screens should be avoided for at least an hour before bedtime. Emma recommended having a family charging station in the kitchen where everyone puts their devices by 10pm. If your child insists that they need their phone to use as an alarm: buy them an alarm clock! Bedrooms should be boredom palaces not fun zones. They should be cool, dark and quiet.

Regular sleep patterns are as important as the total amount of sleep achieved. Staying up late in the week and then having a massive lie in at the weekend simply doesn’t work. Emma was adamant that your nightly sleep total shouldn’t vary by more than an hour. Students who “pull an all-nighter” to meet a deadline or revise for an exam will only be operating at 60% of their usual brain function for the next three days. It is, therefore, better to turn in at a sensible time and be firing on all cylinders the next day than stay up late and be a zombie for the rest of the week. Unsurprisingly, Emma had little time for medication to help bring on sleep or stimulants to help pep you up after insufficient sleep. Young people should definitely not be using energy drinks such as Red Bull or Monster Energy to compensate for poor sleep habits.

A lot of people looked shocked when Emma informed us that it takes about six hours for our bodies to overcome the effects of caffeine. I have certainly started switching to the decaf much earlier in the day!

Emma’s was the last Parent Talk of the year but more are planned for 2018-19, starting in the Autumn Term with advice for hosting (or sending your children to other people’s) teenage parties. If you have attended any of this year’s talks, I hope you have found them useful. I have enjoyed hosting them and have learned a great deal.

Thanks to Emma’s advice, I am feeling much more focused and can concentrate on preparing for my next world record attempt. Now, can anyone lend me three chainsaws?


Mr Eric Trump
Deputy Head, Pastoral