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Kids Who Lose Sleep to Cram Do Worse the Next Day

Kids Who Lose Sleep to Cram Do Worse the Next Day

Nearly any high school student (particularly high achieving kids) will tell you that they have given up sleep to study or do schoolwork. Whether it’s putting the finishing touch on an important paper or cramming for a math test, schoolwork often gets pushed until the last minute. And while losing an hour or two of sleep may not seem like a big deal, a new study published in Child Development shows that kids who lose sleep to study often do worse the next day than they would have otherwise.

These findings may be surprising to teachers, parents, and students. While everyone knows that cramming is not the ideal method of learning material, most people believe that a studying for a few extra hours the night before a test is better than nothing. But they may be wrong.

Middle and high school-age kids typically need 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep is important for many reasons, but one of the most pressing is sleep’s role in learning. Kids who get more REM sleep after learning new concepts retain more of the information–and sometimes even understand it better the next morning. But they have a hard time holding onto the information hours or days later if they are sleep deprived.

During my senior year in high school, I stayed up all night twice during finals week. The second night was the eve of my math final, which I needed to do well on to get even a C in the class. With a two-liter of Mountain Dew by my side, I stayed up all night studying for the test–and failed it the next day, before falling asleep with my head on my desk.

I learned my lesson from that experience, but for many people the connection between lack of sleep and poor learning is a hard one to draw. It’s also tough to make yourself go to bed when you have so much to do or are stressed about a test–but getting some shuteye may very well be the best thing you can do.

NPR gives some advice for teens and their parents to help high schoolers get enough quality sleep to function well at school:

1. Keep a regular sleep-wake schedule throughout the week.

2. Try to get 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep each night.

3. Keep a regular study schedule.

4. Minimize technology (such as computers and cell phones) in your sleeping area.

5. Eliminate caffeine from your diet, especially in the hours before bedtime.

Related Stories:

How Much Sleep Does Your Child Really Need?

Cosleeping Is Just Fine for Your Child’s Development

Are Math and Science the Only Subjects Worth Studying?

 

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52 comments

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12:47PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Thank you Anna, for Sharing this!

9:33AM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

I have never studies. I'm not even sure how to do that. I pay attention in class and read the material. I've never had any problems...

12:22AM PDT on Aug 31, 2012

Cheers.

10:56PM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

If the schools gave more focuse on learning and extra help the kids wouldn't have to stay up all night.

10:56PM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

If the schools gave more focuse on learning and extra help the kids wouldn't have to stay up all night.

10:51AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Great article. I will pass on the info to my teenage daughter and preteen son.

10:50AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Great article. I will pass on the info to my teenage daughter and preteen son.

2:41AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

good article

1:17AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

This merely shows the idiocy of testing for memory retention. Staying up to cram is of no benefit. I never crammed for tests. I looked for what was important to me at that time and for my future.
History and geography I paid little attention to unless there was something that really appealed to me. It was difficult with history as I'd research a topic of interest and it would not always agree with the teacher was teaching. Many things leading up to WW II and the societal trends of the time I found fascinating but many times the teacher's take on it was that Allies - good Germans - bad. Not the type of thing one can write 5000 words on.
As for the instructions at the end of the article - it is best if you can keep a regular schedule but 8 1/2 - 9 1/2 hours per night of sleep? Sleep as long as your body requires rest. For about 40 years I only slept 3 - 4 hours per night and about every 2 weeks I'd sleep 6 - 8 hours and that was fine for me. I did have cat naps a couple of times per day 2 - 15 minutes each. It is not a schedule I recommend for everyone as most bodies agree to require more sleep. Don't stay in bed because someone says that you need more hours than your body needs. A well rested body operates better than an overly tired one.

9:18PM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

I learned this in college 10 to 12 years ago. I feel bad for all the students who have to cram for tests and quizzes. Maybe time management should be taught so students don't have to cram.

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