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A sleep in the classroom: Are current education guidelines on sleep health adequate and effective for educators and intermediate students

A 2018/2019 Summer Studentship research project

The focus of this project is to identify if there are gaps in educational guidelines pertaining to sleep health. If there are gaps in knowledge and areas identified for improved Sleep Health, we will be lobbying with the Ministry of Education to make Sleep Health a priority on their educational guidelines and outcome measures.

Student: Kate Ford
Supervisors: Paul T Kelly (Sleep Unit Team Leader), Rebecca Williamson (CDHB), Michael Hlavac
Sponsor: TBC

Project brief


Poor sleep is considered a modern societal disease from living in an urbanised world1. In Australia, poor sleep is estimated to cost the economy more than 65 billion ($AUD) a year, $26 billion in direct financial costs and $40 billion in the loss of wellbeing2. The Sleep Health Foundation have recommended increased policy efforts be made to (a) encouraging prevention and early detection and (b) raise the awareness of the importance of Sleep Hygiene. A logical starting point for Sleep Health education would be with school aged children who are at risk of disrupted sleep from increased device usage and social media engagement.

The latest Ministry of Health physical education guidelines3 subscribe to “Sit Less, Move More, Sleep Well”, suggesting: Uninterrupted good-quality sleep of 9 to 11 hours per night (for those aged 5 to 13 years) and 8 to 10 hours per night (for those aged 14 to 17 years), with consistent bed and wake-up times.

There are no other guidelines or mandatory inclusions of Sleep Health in the New Zealand curriculum. We believe there is an opportunity to provide intermediate school aged children education on good sleep hygiene practice to set them up for their teenage years into adulthood.


To (1) investigate if the current Ministry of Health guidelines are implemented in intermediate school aged children by their educators, and (2) get a snapshot of current sleep practice and sleep hygiene knowledge in a group of intermediate aged students.


Intermediate classes from four schools within the CDHB catchment will be invited to take part in this study. The study will be two tiered, with the first tier focused on the educators understanding and engagement with students on sleep health. The second tier will be student focused and investigate the current understanding of sleep health and sleep habits of this student cohort over a normal school week. Standardised Sleep Health questionnaires and a 7 day sleep diary will be used to capture this information. Subject numbers include engagement surveys from 20 educators and Sleep Health Questionnaire’s and sleep diaries from 200 intermediate students.

The student will be expected to provide support for the supervisors during startup workshops at the targeted schools. The student will be responsible for data collection/management, analysis and the write up of findings.


  1. Leger D. Working with poor sleep. SLEEP 2014;37(9):1401-1403.