Sleep Your Way to Better Grades
Flora M. Brown, Ph.D.
We have been told since childhood that we need eight hours of sleep for optimum health, safety and performance.
And yet according to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 63% of Americans don’t get this recommended eight hours. Pulling all-nighters to cram for exams is just one of the many reasons college students don’t get their recommended sleep. Since the lack of adequate sleep affects our memory and ability to think, it’s essential to improve your sleep if you want to improve your grades.
Do you wake up to an alarm clock every morning? If so, according to Dr. Wilse Web, a psychologist at the University of Florida , Gainesville , “you’re shortening your natural sleep pattern.” Many people believe that there is widespread sleep deprivation in our nation. As a matter of fact, lack of sleep has been implicated in train, truck, oil spill and space shuttle accidents. These incidents indicate that lack of sleep can lead to inability to concentrate, think fast, make wise decisions and drive safely. For college students the inability to concentrate or remember facts during a test increases the stress and worry of competing for top grades. Here are some things you can do about it.
First, get the right amount of sleep. Experts tend to agree that between six and nine hours is adequate for the average person. To find out more about your own sleep needs, take the quiz “How’s Your Sleep?” at http://www.sleepfoundation.org. While you’re there, also check to see how much you know about sleep with their survey, “What's Your Sleep IQ?”
Second, once you know the right amount of sleep for you, make and stick to a schedule. Sleeping at the same time each night is beneficial. While loss of sleep accumulates over time to contribute to tiredness and drowsiness, sleeping does not accumulate. Unlike money, you can’t save up sleep and borrow from it later. You need to sleep enough and consistently; catchup sleep doesn’t work.
Third, by-pass naps for the real thing. I know you’ve heard the benefits of short naps, but nothing substitutes for a full night’s sleep. You’ll not only be more alert while doing homework, but you’re less likely to doze off in class during lectures or nod during movies while on a date. To aid yourself in falling asleep avoid caffeine in the evening and instead, meditate or exercise.
Fourth, don’t try to compensate for sleep with caffeine and coffee. Using these to compensate for lack of sleep is not worth the side dangers of diabetes, heart attack and addiction.
If you suspect that you have a problem with sleep or a sleep disorder indicated by snoring, frequent drowsiness or insomnia, visit http://sleepquest.com to locate a doctor near you.