Sleep is an essential part of life. However, many students are tempted to give up a few hours of sleep to make time for studying and other activities. What every student should know is that getting the proper amount of sleep is a scientifically proven way to raise test scores and improve [overall] school performance.
Creativity and problem-solving are directly related to sleep. Scientists at the University of Lubeck found that adults who had eight hours of sleep before taking a simple math test were three times more likely to figure out the right answer than their sleep-deprived counterparts. A Tel Aviv University study found that sixth grade students, when deprived of just a half hour of sleep, had their test score levels drop to that of a fourth grader student. Another study conducted by the University of Virginia found that sleep deprivation caused a seven point reduction for scores on vocabulary tests.
How Much Sleep?
Experts have varying opinions about the optimum amount of sleep. A study at Brigham Young University found that students ages 16 to 18 did their best work on standardized tests with only seven hours of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends more. Some doctors may even give recommendations based on individual students’ needs. Every child is different, and as children grow older they need fewer hours of sleep. As a general guide, Lower School students need at least ten hours per night; students in Middle School need to sleep at least eight hours; and High School students should have no less than seven hours of sleep.
Establish a Routine
To achieve the highest benefits from sleep, it must become a nightly routine. Children should have an established time to go to bed and to wake up, even on the weekends. A Brown University study on sleep shifting found that every hour a child stays up late on the weekends correlates to a seven-point drop in test scores.
Experts recommend avoiding bright lights, loud music and falling asleep with the television on at bedtime. A great bedtime routine may include taking a warm bath or shower, listening to classical music and reading a book or magazine for pleasure. Avoid eating a large meal, eating high quantities of sugar, drinking caffeine or consuming excessive liquids before bedtime. If a young student takes naps regularly and is not sleeping through the night, parents may wish to limit or end nap times. Students who want to do their best will stop studying at the right time to ensure they get the proper amount of sleep.