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    Let Sleeping Kids Lie, Hangzhou School District Announces

    Worries about children’s physical development and lack of sleep have prompted a school district in Hangzhou to mandate at least 30 minutes of lying down a day for students.
    Jan 18, 2024#education

    A district in eastern Hangzhou has become the first in the country to introduce standards for primary and secondary school students’ “lying-down breaks” at school, mandating at least 30 minutes of sleep in a prone position during the lunch break. 

    Qiantang District education officials made the announcement on Tuesday, recommending between 40-50 minutes of lying-down sleep time for primary students and between 30-40 minutes for secondary students.

    In China, it is common for students to have naps at school in the middle of the day. Most students nap at their desks, but experts have warned that the practice is bad for children’s physical development.

    In recent years, some schools have introduced methods for students to lie down during their naps, such as via reclining chairs and beds. But the cost of such equipment and a lack of room have prevented more schools from adopting the practice. 

    For example, schools with more than 1,000 students would need to pay hundreds of thousands of yuan for reclining chairs alone, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

    Parents have also expressed displeasure when asked by schools to pay for different levels of comfort for their children’s nap times. 

    Meng, a 32-year-old bank employee who only gave her surname for privacy reasons, told Sixth Tone that her second grade child’s school in Qiantang District had a “lying-down” lunch break last semester, which was then suspended without explanation.

    “I think encouraging students to lie down to nap is definitely good … But it’s difficult to implement it fully because beds alone cost a lot. Not all schools in cities can achieve this, let alone schools in rural areas,” said Meng.

    Under the new standards, schools in Qiantang District will be required to provide the equipment for students to lie down, while the students themselves provide the bedding.

    Schools can choose what kind of reclining equipment they provide, including beds, sleeping mats, and tents.

    Since May 2023, Hangzhou has allocated 5.7 million yuan ($795,000) to support 46 schools in the district fully implementing lying-down breaks.

    According to the latest announcement, lying-down breaks will be promoted further at the provincial level. 

    In 2021, the Ministry of Education called for schools nationwide to arrange time during the school day for students to catch up on sleep, with a daily target of 10, nine, and eight hours of sleep a day for primary, middle, and high school students, respectively.

    According to a 2022 report from the China Sleep Research Society, primary, middle, and high school students in China sleep for an average 7.65 hours, 7.48 hours, and 6.5 hours per day, respectively.

    Additional reporting: Lü Xiaoxi; editor: Vincent Chow.

    (Header image: Students lie down and sleep during a lunch break at a primary school in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, May 4, 2023. VCG)