Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spring Forward—But Get Enough Sleep!

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

Sunday is the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST) throughout much of the United States. But as you spring forward, do remember to get enough sleep!

Experts quoted by such mainstream media outlets as the New York Daily News and Time magazine have identified the Monday after DST as a vulnerable time for traffic accidents. Commuters are adjusting to a lost hour of sleep as well as an hour of daylight shifted from the start of their days to the evening time.

What this underscores is just how important sleep is to proper functioning in general. As we report in our book, Thinking for Results: Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement By As Much as 30 Percent, a large number of Americans are sleep deprived. Lack of sleep has a significant impact on cognitive processes. Most adults require a minimum of 7.5 hours of sleep per night, while children and teenagers need even more.

We cite research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, suggesting that sleep "quality" is just as important as quantity. The research indicates that students who maintain regular and predictable sleep schedules with fewer interruptions perform better in school than those who have irregular schedules and have difficulty staying asleep.

Sleep is an integral component of the Body-Brain System. For example, have you ever studied something during the day and not quite understood it, then awoke the next day to find that your mind now clearly comprehends what alluded you the day before?

When you sleep, many of your conscious processes are taken "off line," allowing your unconscious processes to sort and store the learning experiences of your day. Plus, sleep allows you to rest and rejuvenate, then awaken refreshed to take on the challenges of the new day.

Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: "To sleep, perchance to dream." But let us take a liberty with the Bard and suggest: "To sleep, perchance to learn!"

References: American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2009, June 15). Better sleep is associated with improved academic success. ScienceDaily.

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