Happy woman waking up after good sleeping in bedroom.

A Good Night’s Sleep Earns Students Better Grades

January 12, 2013
Healthy Sleep

For many students, summer break means staying up late with their friends knowing they can sleep in the next day because there’s no school.  But come August when it’s time to go back to school many students are in for a rude awakening – literally!  Most adults remember their moms lecturing them on the importance of a good night’s rest with many doubting the validity of her claims.  But today’s research proves that mom was right all along and perhaps a good night’s sleep earns students better grades.

According to the National College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment, students need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep every night but are only getting 6 to7 hours of sleep each night.  And a 2007 study found that college students who often pulled all-nighters to study had lower GPAs compared to those who made time for sleep.

Sleep Restores Brain Power

Study Hell 🙁 Photo By Marian Craig

What too many students, and adults for that matter, don’t realize is that sleep is restorative for the brain.  When you get too little sleep the hormones in your body that regulate satiety and hunger levels are altered, leading to overeating, weight gain, and obesity.  Insufficient sleep is linked to many students with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and higher incidences of behavior problems. 

When you get a good night’s rest, a growth hormone is secreted during slow-wave sleep.  During slow-wave sleep memory consolidation occurs when our brains piece together different pieces of what we’ve learned throughout the day so that we can access the knowledge later when we need it.  During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep the brain rids itself of the unhelpful memories we don’t need to retain like how to fall off a bike rather than how to ride a bike.

In fact, when studies using MR spectroscopy compared healthy children to those with long-standing obstructive sleep apnea, there were specific patterns of brain injury in children suffering from sleep apnea that wasn’t present in the brains of healthy children.  Fortunately, kids who have been treated for obstructive sleep apnea experience improvement in school performance.

Make Better Sleeping Habits A Routine

Thanks to dear old mom, many college students and adults have formed bedtime routines without knowing it.  But for others, this bedtime routine doesn’t come so naturally.  Here are some tips for creating a bedtime ritual to get a better night’s sleep and better grades.

Prepare your body and mind for bed at least one hour before you plan to go to bed.  Get ready for sleep by doing your bedtime hygiene rituals.  Finish your homework, turn off your computer and TV and silence your cell phone.  And don’t even think of texting either!  Your body and mind need an hour of relaxation before you sleep.  For some, a bedtime routine includes taking a warm shower, reading a book, listening to relaxing music, meditating, or stretching.  Whatever your routine, be sure to stick to it even on weekends.  Your bedroom should be dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable. 

A quality mattress, soft sheets, and comfortable pillows are essential in creating a place of peace and serenity when you sleep.  Be sure to finish eating 2-3 hours before going to bed and finish exercising a few hours beforehand too.  Avoid drinking caffeine after lunch and especially not close to bedtime.  Nicotine also leads to poor sleep and so does alcohol.  Watching TV at bedtime actually stimulates your brain so refrain from watching TV too.  Your body will come to recognize your bed as a place of relaxation if you only use your bed for sleep and sex.

Still, there are some folks who just can’t fall asleep.  If you can’t fall asleep after 15-minutes and have abided by a sleep routine similar to this, get out of bed and do something relaxing.  Many career-driven adults can’t sleep because they are too focused on what they need to do the next day.  Writing these things down in a notebook helps you to concentrate more on going to sleep.

Mom was right.  A good night’s rest is the key to success in the classroom or at the office because sleep earns students better grades.

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