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Introduction – the importance of sleep

We all do it – but how much do you know about what happens when we sleep?

Sleep is essential for our bodies – a lack of sleep can be harmful and can cause difficulties with our physical and psychological wellbeing.

Sleep is the way that our bodies process what has happened during the day and recharge our energy. You might think we don’t do anything when we are asleep but many parts of our brains are in fact more active than when we are awake.

Sleep is a state of reduced awareness that is relatively easy to reverse (unlike a coma or hibernation). Some awareness of the environment around us remains during sleep, particularly our responses to sound (for example, a mother will hear her baby crying but may not wake to the sound of cars passing outside).

In humans, sleep is usually associated with having our eyes closed and laying down – although not always!

A few symptoms of not getting enough sleep (sleep deprivation) are:

  • Concentration difficulties
  • Growth hormone issues
  • Mental health issues
  • Lowering of the immune system
  • Hyperactivity
  • Weight gain
  • Behavioural issues
  • Difficulty remembering things

Parents who are disturbed by their child’s poor sleep patterns are also likely to suffer from sleep deprivation.



Tham, E. K., Schneider, N., & Broekman, B. F. (2017). Infant sleep and its relation with cognition and growth: a narrative review. Nature and Science of Sleep, 9, 135–149.

Wolfson AR, Carskadon MA. Understanding adolescents’ sleep patterns and school performance: a critical appraisal. Sleep Med Rev. 2003 Dec;7(6):491-506.

Cassoff J, Bhatti JA, Gruber R. The effect of sleep restriction on neurobehavioural functioning in normally developing children and adolescents: insights from the Attention, Behaviour and Sleep Laboratory. Pathol Biol (Paris). 2014 Oct; 62 (5):319-31.


Who has produced this toolkit?

This toolkit has been produced in partnership by:

School Health Nursing, Sirona Care and Health

Kings’ Forest Primary School

King’s Oak Academy Primary School

Off the Record

South Gloucestershire Council – Public Health & Wellbeing, Early Years, Educational Psychology, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service


Organisations involved