Education Endowment Foundation:Teensleep


Durham University
Implementation cost 
Evidence strengthNot given for this trial
Impact (months)Not given for this trial
Project info

Independent Evaluator

The York Trials Unit logo
The York Trials Unit
Testing the impact of a sleep education programme
Pupils: 1504 Schools: 10 Grant: £357,210
Key Stage: 4 Duration: 3 year(s) 9 month(s) Type of Trial: Pilot Study
Completed July 2018

Teensleep aims to improve pupil outcomes by improving the quality of their sleep. The project involves teachers delivering a series of 10, half hour lessons highlighting the importance of sleep for effective learning as well as providing practical options, such as avoiding caffeine in the evening, that students can use to improve their sleep

The EEF funded this project, as part of a joint initiative with the Wellcome Trust, because there is evidence linking students’ sleep with their educational attainment. Initially, we aimed to evaluate the impact of a later school start time for teenage students, but this did not prove feasible as schools were reluctant to make the necessary adjustments to their timetable. Instead, we piloted a programme of sleep education.

The pilot found no evidence that the programme led to improvements in students’ sleep as measured by wrist-worn activity monitors, but did find some evidence of promise for improved sleep related behaviour – for example, students reported napping less. The pilot was designed to find evidence of promise rather than to measure impact, so these findings should be interpreted cautiously

All schools completed the programme. In addition, students and teachers were generally enthusiastic about the programme. Due to the challenges of measuring and analysing sleep identified by this evaluation, further work is needed before an impact evaluation is conducted.

  1. There was no evidence that Teensleep improved students’ sleep as measured using a wrist-worn activity monitor before and after the intervention. The absence of a comparison group, and high dropout amongst pupils, reduces the security of this finding.
  2. Students’ self-reported sleep-related behaviours improved, in particular, daytime napping reduced, and students’ knowledge of sleep hygiene increased.
  3. All schools reported delivering the full programme. The time available for cascading training was limited, but teachers reported that the well-structured resources meant this was not a major issue.
  4. Teachers and students were enthusiastic about Teensleep and felt it could be incorporated into their school’s curriculum, following refinements to reduce some repetitive content and make the lessons more interactive.
  5. The collection and analysis of sleep data was challenging. There was variation in how students used the wrist worn activity monitors and in how researchers interpreted the data. In both cases further piloting might help to ensure consistency before an impact evaluation.

Is there evidence to support the theory of change?


There was no evidence that Teensleep improved students’ sleep. However the student questionnaires only collected limited data on very poor sleep, so future research could focus on the sub-group of poor sleepers.

Was the approach feasible?


All schools reported delivering all lessons within the programme with fidelity.

Is the approach ready to be evaluated in a trial?


Acceptability and fidelity of Teensleep was high. Further development and refinement of sleep data collection tools and methods are required due to high attrition among other issues.