Sleep Your Way to Better Grades

Students who get good sleep may have cracked the secret to better grades and some time on the Dean’s list, according to a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Sleep is a needed to help us stay alert for threats to our well-being as well as a chance for our bodies to heal after each day. Students want to work hard to stay current in their classes and keep up with the work from a full schedule. That requires a balancing act that goes heavy on activity and usually sleep is sacrificed. The point is that we need good, quality sleep not massive amounts of it.

Researchers at MIT have found that a regular consistent sleep schedule contributed noticeably to not only better grades but lower anxiety levels in class. Quality rest helped with retention of material read before class and understanding of discussions during class. The researchers also found that students who tend to stay up late and go to bed around 2 a.m. tended to perform poorly on tests no matter how much sleep they got. Quality sleep was also connected to how well student scored on quizzes, midterms, and final exams.

When you go to bed matters. If you go to bed at 10 p.m. or midnight, performance was found to be about the same. There was a significant drop off for those who regularly went to bed after 2 a.m. if you get the same amount. Quantity is good but, again, researchers found that quality and consistency make the effort you put into studying more effective. There is nothing worse than staying up all night to study for a test or prepare for a presentation only to “choke” when it is time to demonstrate how much you know.

Conversely, researchers found that test scores didn’t improve for those who only got a good night’s sleep the night before a test. They found that concentrating on the night before is not enough to make a significant difference. Students have to get good sleep in the days leading up to a test, exam or presentation. Sleep helps to maintain and refresh brain functions that support creativity, memory and learning. So, no. Getting a good night’s sleep right before a big test or final exam is not good enough.

The bottom line is this. Prepare for your next day by starting the night before with a consistent routine of quality sleep. There are lots of activities, relationships and life events that demand your attention and may interrupt that routine from time to time. Make your success in school a priority and take care of yourself with good night of sleep. It can help keep you refreshed and ready for the next challenge.

The above technical information was summarized based on: MIT News “Study: Better Sleep Habits Lead to Better College Grades” by David L. Chandler, Oct 1, 2019, and; U.S. News & World Report “Better Sleep Equals Better Grades in College” by Steven Reinberg, Oct 7, 2019.

Submitted By Tony Foreman, STRIPES-VUB Outreach Specialist

But I CAN’T Sleep!

Perhaps you have accepted the benefits good quality consistent sleep can provide you as a student, but you just can’t seem to fall or stay asleep, help is available. You are not alone, many veterans struggle with quality sleep for a variety of reasons; insomnia, PTSD, sleep apnea, and more. Talk with your medical providers about your sleep concerns. The VA has both provider referral programs and a free online Path to Better Sleep program available. Visit their website to learn more about documenting your sleep patterns and tips for getting a more restful night’s sleep at  https://www.veterantraining.va.gov/insomnia/