By Devin Green
Most teens know the feeling of coming home after a long day of school or work. That moment where you change into your pajamas and settle in for some much needed rest. This is a universal experience, as is the dread that comes with getting up at 5 or 6 am to prepare for school. Whether it’s due to AP classes or after school activities, some of us stay up until midnight doing homework or studying. The irony in this is that many studies suggest our lack of sleep can actually hinder our test scores.
A study conducted in Hong Kong by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that a lack of sleep had a direct correlation with scores in math and english. Another study completed at UCLA suggested that sacrificing sleep for time to cram in studying or homework was counter productive. The less you sleep the harder it is for you to process the information you’re studying and in the end may simply impede your ability to ace the test.The professor in charge of this study, Andrew Fuligni, said that “These results are consistent with emerging research suggesting that sleep deprivation impedes learning.” Now that we’re aware of the dangers of sleep deprivation how can we avoid it and improve our test scores?
The first question that has to be answered is just how much sleep do teens need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. To a lot of people that number might seem impossible. Staying up late to do homework has become a staple of high school. By completing homework the second you get home it becomes easier to manage. This gives you the rest of the day to recover from the school day and lets one knock out their homework while still in “school mood.” If clubs and sports get in the way of this try to do some work during your free time in the school day or set aside a few hours of each day to complete homework preemptively. Doing homework is recognized as a great way to study and doing it early gives you extra time to sleep or relax.
Hours slept isn’t the only factor in sleep deprivation as quality of sleep also plays a role. It is important that your sleep isn’t just long but is also comfortable enough for your body to rest and recharge. The higher quality of sleep one gets the better they’ll feel when they wake up in the morning. Try to begin sleeping “rituals” like taking a shower before bed every night. The body will slowly start to think that a shower at night means it’s time for bed and less time will be wasted trying to get the body ready for sleep. Of course, the path to better sleep is relative to the individual so experiment and find out what works best for you. Try new things when it comes to sleeping, and don’t be afraid to completely overhaul your sleep schedule if it means better sleep in the long run. It is very important for you to study for your tests but if you find yourself up at midnight knee deep in papers ask yourself this, should I sleep or should I study?