Sleeping better can improve your academic performance: it sounds simple, but have you ever actually considered switching up your sleeping schedule or improving how you sleep in order to get better grades, or gain more concentration in class?
Sleep can actually have incredibly beneficial effects on your memory and capacity for learning, and should definitely be considered as a factor to improve when you’re trying to better yourself and your education. But how can you achieve better sleep, and how can you make sure that it pays off with your studying?
There are a few simple steps that you can take in order to make sure that your studying improves alongside your sleeping.
Although dreams are incredibly complex, and we don’t fully understand them at all yet, since they are quite difficult to research, there has been a study which researched the effect of dreams on learning and memory. In the study, participants had to make their way through a difficult maze, and then had a ninety minute break.
During the ninety minute break, some of the participants were allowed to nap, while others were not. Obviously, some of those who napped experienced dreams, and, of those, the ones who dreamed about the maze did much better when faced with the challenge for a second time than all of the other participants.
Although your upcoming exam might not seem like a maze, your brain has to work around remembering all the facts similarly to how it might try to remember the paths in a maze, so if you nap after a good study session, you might just end up remembering more than you would’ve without the nap, making it a worthwhile - and pleasant - option!
“You might have never heard of a ‘micro-nap’ before, but you’ll certainly know what one is,” Heather Johnson, a health writer at Write My Paper and UKWritings, says, “since it’s just a really short nap!
However, while you may have thought about having a quick cat-nap due to simple tiredness or boredom, in actuality they can be a realistic and convenient way to refresh yourself and boost your learning abilities! Nearly nobody can find time in the day for a half-hour to an hour nap, especially not if you’re also trying to work or study - or even both!
So why not fit in a quick five to ten minute nap, setting an alarm to make sure that you don’t oversleep, since it will quickly rejuvenate your energy supplies and keep you in tip-top condition throughout the day, no matter how stressful it might end up being.”
Coming back to the idea of dreams, it is generally considered common knowledge that some ideas came to people ‘in a dream’, although these people are generally looked upon as a little confused or, more commonly, obsessively-religious, since the ideas are often given to them by angels or deities.
However, going into a deep sleep can help your mind to mull over any difficult problems that you might be facing during your waking hours - finding that hard to believe? The societal stigma around dreams might be forcing you to stay within a predetermined box of disbelief and skepticism, but there are hard facts to back up this claim.
During another study into the effects of sleep, a group of people were collected and given difficult problems to think about throughout the day, having been given the problems in the morning.
Some of the people were actively encouraged to nap and sleep throughout the day, even while they were meant to be solving or thinking of solutions for these problems, while others were strictly told that they could not sleep or nap.
Out of the people who were encouraged to nap, those who napped long enough to enter REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the deepest type of sleep where intense and vivid dreams tend to occur, performed forty percent better at solving the problems and thinking of creative solutions than everyone else within the study.
So, if you’re stuck on a certain area of study or need to become a master problem solver, dreaming is a sure-fire way to get yourself on the right track.
Being tired might be one of the most fundamental problems for students, who regularly pull ‘all-nighters’ (staying awake all night) in order to get all of their studying and coursework completed in time, whether due to strict time constraints or slack time management on the students’ parts.
“If you’re tired, then you won’t perform as well at academics, sport - anything, really!” Charles Margolin, an educator at Studydemic and Essayroo, suggests. “When you’re tired, you’ll find it difficult to focus on anything, making learning near-impossible. All you want to do is sleep, not learn equations or memorize dates, so give your body what it needs at the right time in order to not let your grades suffer.
Sleeping before class, even if it’s just a quick nap, can easily boost your confidence and ability to learn, and make you brighter and happier, so it is an all-round excellent idea to keep in control of your sleep, so that fatigue doesn’t ruin your studying efforts.”
Leading on from that idea, if you settle your body into a good sleeping schedule, then academic benefits are sure to follow.
Making sure that you go to bed at the same time every night - perhaps an hour before you actually plan to sleep, just to relax your body before you actually drift off - and setting an alarm for the same time every morning (yes, even on weekends, since lie ins can make you feel extremely groggy and can actually be horrible for your health, despite their invitingness) are brilliant ideas to keep you within a good, safe sleeping pattern.
Your body will eventually become in-tuned with this arrangement, and you will find it easier to spring out of bed every morning and be in a good, working mindset for your studying.
If you’re in a good mood, then your brain will be more receptive to gaining new facts and remembering new patterns, making studying more worthwhile, since you’re more likely to gain knowledge from every minute, instead of only actually remembering a couple of facts out of the hundreds that you might’ve tried to learn.
Sleeping is incredibly important to everyday life, but it couldn’t be more important when you think about it in terms of studying and revision.
Although it sounds cliché, getting enough sleep before an important exam is definitely better than trying to ‘cram’ all the information in one night - not only is it healthier for you and your brain, but it is also more effective, and you’re more likely to do better academically if you pay attention to your body and how much sleep it needs.
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About the Author: Chloe Bennet is a researcher at OXEssays and Assignment Services portals. She helps with content analytic and citations. Chloe develops edtech courses at Research Paper Writing Service.