This Is the Importance of Sleep for Students
Category: Healthy Living
Posted on February 8, 2021
Vanessa is a health writer and blogging expert. Her specialities are medicine, health and wellness. She is proud to call Vancouver, BC her home where she enjoys the ocean and mountains with her dog Mr. ChowChow.
As the end of each semester draws near, you probably find yourself cramming as much studying into the day as possible. Since exam preparation is essential, you likely fuel long days and nights with caffeine and very little sleep.
Unfortunately, research shows that a lack of sleep can negatively affect your progress at school, no matter if you are in kindergarten or university. Yet, about one-third of all children in the United States aren't getting enough sleep. As a result, scientists are warning of a public health crisis.
Whether you are a student or the parent of a school-aged child, understanding the importance of sleep for students can help you or your child succeed at school.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Just as exercise and eating healthy meals is essential for your body, so is the proper amount of rest. Here are only a few reasons to prioritize sleep over binge-watching your favorite series.
Improve Concentration and Memory
You may have noticed that when you don't get enough sleep, you have trouble concentrating. That's because sleep helps your brain function optimally.
One study found that insufficient sleep can negatively impact a person in some ways, like intoxication. Sleep deprivation can impede your problem-solving skills and memory. There's no wonder experts recommend getting enough sleep before an important test!
Make Social Connections
When you don't get enough sleep, you cannot interact with your peers as usual. That's because it affects your ability to recognize social cues and process information related to emotions. If you want to connect with your classmates and make more friends, try going to bed earlier.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
While an insufficient amount of sleep doesn't directly cause you to gain weight, it can affect your hormones and motivation to be active during the day. Surprisingly, both children and adults are more likely to be obese if they don't sleep enough.
Studies even suggest that those who sleep less gain weight because they have an increased appetite. The hormones that stimulate appetite rise, and those that suppress it decrease. This alteration causes sleep-deprived individuals to eat more.
Better Sports Performance
Students who participate in athletic programs should take extra care when it comes to their sleeping habits. Speed, reaction times, and accuracy can all be negatively affected when you skip out on sleep.
Reduce Your Risk for Depression
Mental health issues are increasing these days, including depression. Many medical experts have found that those who struggle with depression have poor sleep patterns.
Improve your Immune System
Getting sick can cause you to miss class and negatively impact your grades. If you get sick often, a lack of sleep may be the problem.
During one study that lasted fourteen days, participants reported their sleep duration and efficiency. These individuals also administered nasal drops with rhinovirus and monitored their symptoms.
Researchers determined that people who slept for less than 7 hours a night were almost three times more susceptible to colds than those who slept for 8 hours or more.
With the current pandemic, it is more important than ever to get enough sleep and improve your immune system's function.
Feel Better Emotionally
Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your cortex function, which is the part of the brain responsible for regulating emotions. Severe sleep debt can make you feel unstable, irritable, anxious, or even confused. If you want to boost your mood, getting the proper amount of sleep is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
What Happens When You Sleep?
The health benefits of sleep are apparent and give students plenty of reasons to get to bed on time. These sleep benefits are a direct result of what happens to your body when you are sleeping.
Every night, your body goes through four stages of sleep. Each one should occur multiple times at lengths varying from 70 minutes to two hours. The four steps are as follows.
When you fall asleep, your body begins a light non-REM sleep. During this first stage, your heart rate, brain waves, and eye movements will slow down.
Each night, you spend the most time in stage two. It occurs just before deep sleep.
At this phase, your body temperature decreases, and your eye movements stop. The muscles in your body will relax more fully, as well. For some time, your brain waves spike, only later to slow down.
Stage three is needed to replenish your energy levels. It also restores and repairs your cells, tissues, and muscles.
In this stage, deep sleep begins. Your muscles don't move, your eye movements stop, and your brain waves reach the lowest point.
Without the third stage of sleep, you would feel sluggish the next day. In contrast, a complete third stage of sleep will help you feel refreshed and alert.
The fourth stage is also known as REM sleep. It occurs about 90 minutes after you first fall asleep. In this stage, you are likely to dream.
Your brain waves increase, as do your eye movements. Plus, your heart rate and breathing rise.
During REM sleep, your brain processes information. It is the most critical stage for students because it promotes learning and memory.
How Much Sleep Should Students Get?
The recommended amount of sleep a student should get each day ranges from 7-13 hours per day, depending on age.
- Preschoolers and Kindergarteners: 10-13 hours
- Elementary School Students: 9-12 hours
- Middle Schoolers: 8-10 hours
- High Schoolers: at least 8 hours
- College/University Students: at least 7 hours
Keep in mind that young school children, especially those under the age of six, need to take naps throughout the day. Naptimes will help them stay focused and keep their mood steady throughout the day.
Importance of Sleep for Students' Grades
Although it is clear that sleep affects our health, you may wonder how sleep affects learning. Researchers in Seattle studied the impact that delaying school times by about an hour would have on grades.
They found that there was a 34 minutes increase in average sleep. Moreover, grades improved by 4.5%, and more students attended school.
These results are not surprising. Students with sleep disorders are much more likely to receive low grades in classes that require high levels of concentration, such as math, reading, and writing.
Even students who forego a good night's rest to stay up studying suffer when it comes to their grades. They are more likely to have lower GPAs.
How to Be a Better Student
If you are a parent, you may wonder how to help your child become a better student. As we have already seen, sleep can play a crucial role in success at school. Whether you are a parent or student, here are some practical steps you can take.
Get the Recommended Amount of Sleep
Even if your child has a mountain of homework or an upcoming test, make sure they get enough sleep every night. That may mean limiting the time they spend playing video games or watching TV. Yet, you should always prioritize quality sleep.
Parents can improve their children's sleep quality by setting a bedtime for school nights. This schedule will regulate their internal clock, allowing their children to fall asleep more easily at night.
Look Out for Signs of Fatigue
Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, sore muscles, weakness, slow reflexes, irritability, or low concentration may mean that your child is fatigued. If this occurs, you should reevaluate their schedule so that they have more time for rest.
Limit Screen Time
Many students rely on technology for their education. However, an abundance of screen time can worsen sleep quality.
One reason is that using electronic devices is addicting for young ones. They may feel tempted to continue playing games or chatting with their friends late into the night. The next morning, however, the consequences will ensue.
Students may wish to limit their screentime each day. These days, you can take advantage of device settings to alert you whenever you spend too much time using a particular app.
Avoid Using Screens at Night
The blue light from screens can hinder melatonin production, the hormone that naturally causes us to feel tired at night. Using screens can cause us to feel more awake.
If you want to prevent insomnia at night, try limiting your screen time in the evening. Two hours before going to sleep, stop using electronic devices altogether.
Parents may wish to set a curfew for their children every night. By a particular hour, they may remove electronic devices from their children's possession. Doing so will prevent students from staying up all night using their tablets or cell phones, thus feeling extra tired in the morning.
Instead of using electronic devices, you can try reading a book or doing light stretches. These activities help you wind down in the evening and don't involve electronic devices.
Monitor Your Diet Before Sleep
Many foods can help you sleep, but some foods can inhibit sleep. These include soda, coffee, tea, sweets, and fried foods. You should especially avoid caffeine, as it can linger in your system for many hours.
Try to avoid meals high in carbohydrates before bedtime, as these can interfere with the body's preparation for rest at night. If you plan to have a meal with a high number of carbs, try eating earlier than usual. Doing so will provide you with sufficient time to digest.
When it comes to bedtime snacks, limit yourself to lighter options. However, you should also avoid going to bed on an empty stomach since this can cause you to wake up due to feelings of hunger.
Even those who experience insomnia can experience noticeable effects when they exercise regularly. This change is due to several factors.
One of the most significant effects is the change in your core body temperature. Exercise signals a drop in temperature, just like the one that occurs when you fall asleep. This temperature change may signal to your brain that it is time to sleep.
Besides, exercise relieves depression and anxiety. Feelings of worry may keep you up at night. Eliminating or reducing these emotions can help you fall asleep calmly.
One added benefit of exercise is it boosts serotonin, the hormone involved in regulating the sleep cycles. Therefore, exercising increases the brain's ability to metabolize this hormone and regulate sleep.
Stay out of Bed
If it isn't bedtime, don't sit or lay in your bed. Each activity that you do during the day should have a separate area.
For example, you should read or study at your desk and watch TV on a chair or sofa. When you finally go to bed, it will be easier to fall asleep.
Don't Sleep in on the Weekend
One way to set your internal clock is by going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. You may feel tempted to make up for your late nights and sleep debt on the weekends. However, it is better to keep a routine so that you can sleep well every day of the week.
Adjust the Lights
At night, you may want to dim the lights so that your body knows that it will soon be time to sleep. In the morning, adjust the curtains and let the sunlight inside the room as soon as you wake up. The sunlight will help you feel more alert and ready to get out of bed.
Seek Professional Help for Better Sleep
The importance of sleep for students is evident. However, some individuals suffer from chronic sleep conditions or disorders.
If you are an adult student, you should talk to your doctor about medications that can help you fall asleep or correct your sleep issues. If you are a parent, you should ask your pediatrician how you can help your child maintain a better sleep schedule.
Don't let the high cost of prescriptions prevent you from getting a better night's sleep! At PricePro Pharmacy, we can help you save money on medications.