Every one of us can recall making the decision to sacrifice sleep in order to meet a deadline, write a paper, or finish something for work. We convince ourselves that in order to be productive we must push through when in fact the opposite is true. We should go to bed.
A good night’s sleep is crucial to memory and learning. During sleep the brain is hard at work, making connections and solving problems so that we can take in new information the next day. Sleep also helps “cement” memories. Studies show that attaining the deepest level of sleep, known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, within 12 hours of learning can strengthen those memories.
The bottom line for our students: Skimping on sleep during exam prep time can negatively affect your ability to retain what you've learned.
So, what does this mean for parents of school age children? The process of getting ready for sleep begins the moment your children arrive home from school. Help them ease of out of their day by establishing routines that will signal to their brains the gradual shift from high to reduced activity. This might include limiting screen time, enjoying a family meal, and, as bedtime approaches, settling in together with a good book (or books). For parents of teenagers this process is complicated by the near constant stream of digital information they take in and by their busy after-school schedules. But maintaining a routine and some of the same bedtime practices, like turning off cell phones or, better yet, storing them in some other area of the home (any place but the bedroom) can help older students to adopt healthy sleep habits.
Of course, our children will follow our lead so parents can set a good example – and reap the benefits the following day – by getting to bed earlier at night. Sharing what we know about the importance of sleep with our children will help them create healthy habits that will serve them long after they leave us.
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Sleep strengthens recent learning -- Psychology Today, Nov 16, 2017
Sleep helps learning, memory -- Harvard Medical School Health Blog
The 7 reasons your kid needs sleep -- Parents.com