Cutting Sleep to Study is a Losing Strategy

My daughter insists that she can cut sleep short for days on end before a major test or project…and still be “fine.”  I’m not in a position to turn out the lights on her (she’s in college), but parents of teens might want to consider doing that very thing.  An NPR article discusses the findings of a study that shows that more studying doesn’t necessarily lead to better grades.  The truth is, without adequate sleep students don’t learn as well.  The article suggests five strategies to help teens get the most out of their rest time:

1. Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule throughout the week. When your schedule varies by more than 60 to 90 minutes day to day (or school nights vs. weekend nights), this can have negative consequences for academics, mood and health.

2. Try to get 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep a night: Best for middle and high school-age adolescents

3. Keep a regular study schedule: Trying to study late at night interferes with a teen’s ability to get a sufficient amount of sleep, and may create an irregular sleep-wake schedule as noted above.

4. Minimize high-tech in one’s sleep environment and particularly in the hour before trying to fall asleep (such as: text messaging, computer work/games, watching videos, etc.). These activities will also interfere with falling asleep and might wake you up at night if you keep your cellphone on during the night.

5. Eliminate caffeine from your diet, particularly 3 to 5 hours before trying to fall asleep.