Amid growing concerns over the way poor and disrupted sleep damages children’s mental and physical health, King Edward VI High School for Girls, Edgbaston is launching a sleep-themed wellbeing week. Named ‘Salus’ from the Latin word for health, welfare and safety, the week provides numerous activities to help girls and staff at the high-performing school take charge of their own welfare in an increasingly frantic, stressful world.
A recent paper in The British Medical Journal suggests that sleep has greater impact on an adolescent’s mental wellbeing than bullying, physical activity and screen time. Its co-author Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: “More and more evidence is showing that lack of sleep has a major impact on children’s mental and physical health, as well as learning…. At a time where there is so much competition with sleep thanks to technology and lifestyles, any education on the importance of sleep will benefit today’s young people.”
During Salus Week, KEHS girls will learn a range of strategies to promote healthy sleep, such as making their own lavender pillow drops, reviewing their “sleep tanks” to see if they are running low and trying the Tibetan Five Rites. These yoga-style movements were originally used by Tibetan monks to help them live calm, vibrant lives, boosting sound sleep, memory and emotional and mental health. Other de-stressing activities include aqua-fit, knitting, workshops on emotional intelligence and making nourishing smoothees.
“We have many high-achieving girls here,” said Salus Week organiser Sarah Shore-Nye, Head of the Lower School. “They are unusually talented in different areas and set themselves high standards, but their active minds and packed schedules mean they sometimes miss out on vital sleep, which can impact on their emotional and mental health. Some have perfectionist tendencies, some worry about being anxious, not recognising that a certain degree of anxiety is a natural reaction to life’s stresses. Salus has become an annual event here. It’s about looking after the ‘whole you’, providing strategies to handle that stress – and I know this year’s focus on improving sleep will be really useful to all of us, girls and staff alike.”
The teachers are certainly not forgotten. Fruit will be provided in the staffroom at recess, as well as toast and biscuits, as a Salus Week treat. The staff and Sixth Form are also holding a pyjama day with teachers even staying in their pjs for Parents Evening! Staff will have a stretching session before School each day in the multi gym and the girls will play live music at lunchtime in the Dining Hall.
Lower Sixth-former Nikita Jain, 17, who is studying English Literature, French, Physics, Maths and Further Maths is one of the main organisers on the Sixth Form Salus Week Committee: "In a School as academic as KEHS, I feel it’s important to find the balance between studying and relaxing,” she said. “As someone who does 5 A Levels, with a considerable workload, I try to look after my own wellbeing. Sleep is a really crucial part of this and that is why it's a perfect theme for this year's Salus Week".