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Sleep – The difference between acing an exam and failing

Sleep – The difference between acing an exam and failing

Week 3:  How important sleep is for learning

Getting enough sleep is an under-valued but crucial part of learning. Contrary to students’ belief that staying up all night to cram for an exam will lead to higher scores, truth is, the need for a good night’s rest is even more important than finishing homework or studying for a test.

Dr. Matthew Walker professor of neuroscience measured the ability of the brain to make new memories without sleep and found that for those who pulled an all-nighter had a 40% deficit in learning, he stated that this was “the difference between acing an exam and failing miserably.”

Dr Walker discovered under MRI that when you pull an all-nighter a part of your brain called the hippocampus is shut down.  Normally the hippocampus is  very good at receiving new information and hanging onto them.

One of the most important habits for students to develop is good natural sleep.  “Sleeping pills do not produce a naturalist sleep and they have also been associated with a high risk of death and cancer.” (Dr Matthew Walker)

Sleep should be scheduled and not neglected.  Going to sleep at the same time and waking the same time each day helps.  This site has some great tips if you have trouble going to sleep.  Once you have a new regular sleep pattern, it’s important that you see it as a priority in your life.

If you need to sleep in on the weekends,  then do “No one would look at an infant baby asleep, and say ‘What a lazy baby!” states Walker. Yet adults have stigmatized sleep with the label of laziness. But the truth is we are in the midst of a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic.” (Walker)

When you are in VCE doing studying for exams doing the same quiet routine each night can help calm an overactive mind. You can think, plan and prepare for tomorrow. So you don’t lie awake worrying about details when you go to bed.  By repeating a regular pattern, you can train your body and mind to unwind ready for bed.

Many activities people do in the evening can be overstimulating. So a bedtime routine helps you avoid doing those things and relax instead.