School in China worried about kids sleeping on desks radicalises nap time with tents

Not the school or students mentioned in the article.
PHOTO: Unsplash

A primary school in China has been praised for radicalising nap time by allowing students to build tents in which to rest so they get healthier sleep lying flat on the ground.

While most primary school students in China take their noon nap by resting their heads on their desks or use the time to do homework, Xingfuhe Elementary School in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, eastern China, does things differently.

The school lets its students sleep for 40 minutes at noon in tents set up in spacious event rooms, the Qianjiang Evening News reported.

Zhou Hong, the school's headmaster said they started its "sleep lying down project" last year by arranging mats on the floor for students to use during nap time to get better sleep and improve overall health.

"Sleeping on desks will leave students feeling numb in their arms and legs, is bad for spinal development, and will affect the quality of their sleep," she said.

In May, the school conducted a survey of students and parents and asked how they felt about the idea of sleeping in tents during nap time, so far 150 students have signed on to sleep in the tents.

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Zhang Songjun, a teacher at the school, said students are allowed to set up the tents themselves and are encouraged to decorate their tents, put signs on the tent flaps and set their own sleeping rules.

"As we expected, the sleep-lying-down project's benefits have been pretty good," she said. "Students fall asleep faster and have better-quality sleep. Even more importantly, they all like it very much."

Headmaster Zhou said the school is trying to teach students to pay attention to their sleep health and learn to be independent.

"Students set up their own tents and sleep inside, this is their own separate space," she said. "Their independence has grown a lot, an indispensable quality to instil in kids while growing up."

One young girl at the school, nicknamed Yiyi, said her tent is pink and is in the shape of a lying-down bear.

She told Zhejiang TV that she hung a sign outside her tent with the words "Yiyi's Little Home" and "Little Home's Rules" which include keeping quiet, taking off shoes before entering the tent and collecting one's belongings before leaving.

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"I feel comfortable sleeping inside my tent," Yiyi said. "It's bigger than the mat on which we slept before. After the nap, I have energy to concentrate on my studies in the afternoon."

The school's sleep initiative has attracted widespread praise for its novel and proactive approach to sleep and education.

"Those students are so happy!," wrote one person on Weibo.

"I think this arrangement should be promoted in all schools across the country," another person said.

But another commenter said many schools would have practical limits on how much they could adopt from the initiative: "I doubt if most schools have the space to lay out so many tents."

In March, another primary school in Hangzhou shot to fame after introducing a new type of chair that can become a reclining lounge for students to lie flat on during their lunch-break nap.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.