Most of us have been told since we were very young that we needed to get good sleep for our health, our energy, and our focus. We got an extra dose of the “sleep is important” message all the time in school, too.
But if you thought everyone was just being overly concerned, you may want to think again.
What the Science Says About Sleep’s Effect on Study Skills
Studies have consistently shown over the years that sleep is necessary for performing better when we’re awake. Here are some examples of the way sleep interacts with your daily functions, including study skills:
- Harvard found that good sleep helps to solidify what we learned during the day, and that a lack of sleep over-works your brain neurons to the point where they can’t recall information correctly. Simply put, you will always lose focus and have trouble studying when you don’t get enough sleep.
- Other researchers have found that a lack of sleep significantly contributes to unethical behavior like cheating. Though assessed on employees, this study applies to students, too, because if you’re sleep-deprived, you’ll be more likely to try to find alternative ways of getting your homework done (suddenly, cheating looks like a “good” option).
- Cal Poly wrote on their student services website that according to the Journal of Adolescent Health, only 30 percent of students get the recommended amount of eight hours of sleep a night. When so many students feel like they are overloaded with homework, maybe the problem isn’t just with the workload.
What This Means for You
All of this research (and more) proves that a lack of sleep is detrimental to the development of your brain and your ability to remember information.
So if you’re serious about improving your study skills, or even just want to make sure you don’t short-change your brain’s development permanently, here are some ways to help you improve your sleeping habits:
- Take this sleep deprivation quiz. Out of the 15 quick questions, you’ll be able to figure out if you’re sleep-deprived. The quiz even explains how to adjust your sleep schedule over the course of a few weeks so you can fix your sleep deprivation problem.
- Know how much sleep you do need. You might think that you don’t need sleep, that you actually do homework and study better when you get 5 or 6 hours of sleep (or even less). You could be right - everyone’s body functions differently. However, don’t assume this is the case for you without looking into the possibility of sleep deprivation.
- Find ways to fall asleep easier. This varies for everyone, though most researchers suggest that everyone avoid any sort of computer or TV-viewing at least an hour before bed. Other ideas are doing some stretches (but not a strenuous workout), putting on calming music, or reading.
Sleep deprivation doesn’t have to hurt your study skills if you don’t let it. As soon as you figure out the best night’s rest for yourself, the better your memory and therefore scores will become!
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