If you have trouble getting high-quality shut-eye, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern, creating a huge roadblock to success in just about any endeavor– including academic performance.
According to a study presented by the Professional Sleep Societies, good sleeping habits improve test scores. The results of the study show that students who scored higher on math exams experienced infrequent nighttime awakenings, spent less time in bed during the day, and slept sufficiently on a consistent basis. The same study provides evidence that fewer night time awakenings is associated with higher scores on English tests.
Lower scores on exams, the study further reveals, can be linked to students’ habit of sleep onset latency (SOL) on weekends. SOL is the amount of time it takes for the brain to complete the transition from wakefulness to sleep, particularly to the deepest state of dreamless sleep.
Bottom line: when you maintain healthy sleeping habits, you give yourself an edge at exam time. Here are 5 tips to help you regularly get the sleep you need:
- Stick to a sleeping schedule: Say you decide to go to bed at 10pm every night and wake up at 7am every morning. Stick to that sleep schedule as consistently as possible, even on days when you don’t have to go to work or school. By following this rule, your body clock will become accustomed to the schedule you’ve set.
- Practice a bedtime ritual: Engaging in a peaceful activity, away from bright lights and cell phones, promotes easier sleep. By avoiding any action that causes excitement, anxiety, or stress, and instead choosing to indulge in a relaxing ritual such as meditation, your mind can settle down more easily at bedtime.
- If you struggle to fall asleep at night, avoid naps: Naps are great if they are short and used simply for a quick recharge; however, if they are consistent and lengthy, they can actually interfere with proper sleeping patterns. If you experience insomnia or have poor sleep quality at night, don’t give in to the temptation for a daytime nap.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow: You should always make sure your mattress and pillow have good support and are comfortable to you. Mattresses usually last about nine to ten years, so if your bed isn’t doing it for you anymore, try to recall when you purchased your current mattress and replace as necessary. As for pillows, always use pillows that work with best with your own best sleeping position.
- Assess your surroundings: Your room should be your sanctuary. It should look and feel like the perfect place you want to be after a long day at work or school. The temperature in your room should feel comfortable for you– but note that the recommended temp for optimal sleep is around 64-65 degrees F. Your bedroom should also be checked for distracting noises and bright lights. Utilizing black curtains, eye shades, humidifiers, and ear plugs can all be helpful as well in the pursuit of a good night’s sleep.
This entry was posted in Brain Food, BrainStorm’s resource center for parents.
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