Sleep is critical for good health and well-being throughout life. Getting quality sleep protects your mental & physical health. If you want to make good grades and have an easier time as a student, you should get enough rest (preferably not during class). We’ve mentioned the importance of avoiding all-nighters before, but we have never actually explained the science behind that advice. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence that lack of sleep hinders your ability to learn or think clearly. So here we’ve outlined factors behind the importance of sleep for students.
During sleep, we repeatedly cycle through five phases of sleep: stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Stages 3 and 4 are considered “deep sleep”. Understanding these cycles helps understand their importance and impact on our bodies.
Lack of sleep adversely affects physical performance. Extended sleep deprivation can lead to hallucinations and wild mood swings or depression. Some scientists believe that without rest, neurons become energy-depleted or polluted from normal cellular activity that they eventually malfunction. In addition, research on rats showed that less sleep wore down immune systems, dramatically reducing life expectancy. In humans, ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Scientists believe that sleep is necessary for our nervous systems to work normally. Without sleep, we’re drowsy and unable to fully concentrate. It may take longer to finish tasks, give us slower reaction times, and cause us to make more mistakes.
Research has shown that sleep helps us consolidate our memories, although the process is still not understood. In testing on mice, researchers observed new connections between neurons – synapses – being created during sleep. the study examined mice’ brains using a microscope to determine the effects of sleep or sleep deprivation.Small “spines” formed, which essentially represent a memory. Interestingly, during sleep, the same neurons firing during the learning process fired again, like instant replay. Their study reveals that sleep helped form more new synapses.
The Perils of Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol robs you of REM and deep, stage 3 & 4 restorative stages of sleep. Without normal sleep cycles, your brain doesn’t consolidate memory or rest as well.
The Importance of Sleep for Students
The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is eight to ten hours in order to function at best. Getting enough sleep helps you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. Next time you’re thinking about pulling an all-nighter or over-consuming alcohol, consider the impact on your studies and your grades!