Sleep Habits Affect Learning
November 13, 2009
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I was listening to an NPR podcast on my run into work this morning which focused on Po Bronson’s book “Nurture Shock – New Thinking about Children” which I found to be pretty interesting. One thing in particular that caught my attention was their discussion on sleep and its effects on learning.
It’s not new news to find that kids and adults alike are getting less sleep than ever before. Several studies show that kids are sleeping one whole hour less each night than they did 30 years ago. Factors include, earlier school start time, more homework at night, more access to electronic stimuli (tv, video games, social networking, etc.) both parents working later; the list goes on. The average high schooler sleeps 6.65 hours per night. What this translates into academically, according to Dr. Avi Sadeh out of Tel Aviv University is that,
“A loss of even three nights of sleep for a half hour each night was equal to the difference between a sort of a fourth grader and a sixth grader on the sort of subcomponent IQ tests.”
I found this to be pretty shocking. The brain’s need for sleep is so that it can take short term memory and file it into long term memory so that we may recall what we’ve learned at a later time. There’s more technical terminology for this process, but this is how I heard it. Bronson also went on to say that,
“A-students average 15 more minutes sleep than B-students, who average 15 more minutes sleep than C-students, and so on. Every 15 minutes can count.”
What I got out of listening to this podcast is what a major role sleep plays in, not only our day to day living, but in our academic, intellectual development. Long ago, our ancestors retired with the sun and arose with the sun. Perhaps it’s time we turn back the clock on our sleeping habits.
You can read the transcript here or download the podcast here.