Don't Let a Lack of Sleep Hurt Your Ability to Learn

Barry Lenson

Don't Let a Lack of Sleep Hurt Your Ability to Learn

How well have you been sleeping lately? I ask because National Sleep Awareness Week is happening right now, from March 7th through 13th.

I’m writing about sleep on the StraighterLine Blog because a lack of it can be a big problem for students. If you’re exhausted, how can you focus on lessons or learn?

How much sleep is enough? According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need an average of 7-9 hours a night. But you have to monitor your sleeping patterns and alertness to determine what works for you. According to the NSF, some people can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept a full 10 hours.

According to the NSF, here are some telltale signs of sleep deprivation . . .

  • You become drowsy when driving or riding in a car.
  • You find it difficult to concentrate or remember facts.
  • You’re irritable with co-workers, family or friends.
  • You have difficulty staying awake in meetings or monotonous situations.

If those indicators show you could use more sleep, here are some steps to follow, adapted from NSF guidelines . . .

  • Increase your sleep time gradually over a few weeks. Don’t expect to suddenly add several hours. Instead, retire a bit earlier than usual and try to rise a bit later if your schedule permits.
  • Maintain your new sleep schedule on weekends. 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. 
  • Exercise. Daily workouts will helps you rest better and longer, but schedule them at least three hours before bedtime to avoid feeling energized.
  • Don’t nap during the day, even if you feel tired. It only makes it harder to fall asleep at night.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep, don’t stay in bed to toss and turn. Get up and enjoy a relaxing activity like listening to music or reading until you feel sleepy. Then go to bed again.

To learn more about sleep . . . 

Visit the National Sleep Foundation online.

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