Students, even during my time, seem to always stay up late studying for exams. I remember cramming formulas and theories as late as 1 a.m. I expected to remember all these information the next day when I sat for the papers. Well, most of the time I did not remember much.
So does this method really work? Sleep deprivation affects memory and focus, two vital factors in your education. Read on to discover how the quality of sleep affects your studies.
The Learning Process
To understand how sleep affects your education, let me explain the learning process. Let us say you are learning how to play the piano. Such a course relies greatly on your memory. To remember, you have to:
- Acquire: This stage involves experiencing or learning something new. In our case, playing piano, you will learn the different keys and how to place your hands on the piano.
- Consolidate the memory: After acquiring something new, your brain has to consolidate the memory so that it sticks. In our case, you need to remember all the different keys and their location.
- Recall: The ability to remember something makes the difference between a good student and a bad student.
Acquiring knowledge and recalling it are processes that take place when we are awake. However, the consolidation stage happens when we are asleep.
Consolidation of Memories
There are various stages of sleep. Memories are consolidated at each of these stages. During the first stage of sleep the mind establishes declarative memory. Declarative memories are memories that require simply knowing. It includes names of cities and countries, and in our case knowing the names of different keys.
In the last stage of sleep, the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage, “how-to” memory is consolidated. In our case, anything you learned about how to play piano, such as combining the keys to play a specific song, is consolidated during this stage.
The consolidation stage is so important because, if you skip it, you will not be able to recall what you learned.
The Negative Impacts of Sleep Deprivation on Your Education
We have established that lack of sleep, or low quality sleep affects the brain’s ability to remember. If you cannot remember, what is the point of learning?
But that is not the only effect of low quality sleep on education.
Lack of focus
A sleep deprived person is not able to focus or concentrate. If you study when sleepy, you often find that understanding anything is problematic. That is why you often use focus boosters such as caffeine. A foggy brain does not receive information and does not access the information (recall) because the neurons are overworked, resulting in a bad coordination of brain functions.
Sleep deprivation leads to poor judgment. When you are fatigued, you tend to make the simplest decision to a problem so that it goes away quickly. So, you don’t adequately assess a situation or plan a solution.
A sleep deprived person tends to be very moody. Ever tried reading when you are moody? It didn’t work, did it? When you are moody, you are not able to acquire new information.
All these negative impacts will affect your education in one way or another. The solution is to focus on getting regular sleep. As a student, you need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. You cannot afford to oversleep, either. You will find yourself with a lot of things to do and no time to do them.
Are you now going to get enough sleep? If I knew the importance of sleep as a student, my college life could have been a lot easier.
Sarah is the Editor of Sleepy Deep. Feeling the repercussions of being an irregular sleeper for far too long, she decided to do something about it. She learned why sleep is so important and how to maximize it, and is now helping others who are struggling to find their right sleep routine. You can follow her on Facebook.