Sleep: The Secret Weapon for Scholastic Success
As summer comes to an end, many parents are scrambling to buy school supplies, shop for clothes, and figure out how to work all those extracurricular activities into their family' busy schedule. With all the effort parents put into equipping their kids for a rewarding educational experience, one aspect that may get overlooked is sleep. Whether your child is in grade school or in college, quality sleep can be as important to learning as books. This is because, based on studies conducted by a variety of universities including Harvard and Stanford, sleep is a performance booster:
- Sleep improves memory.According to experts, memory can be broken into the three components of "acquisition," "consolidation," and "recall." Predictably, the acquisition and recall phases occur when your child is awake, taking in new experiences and then using the resulting memories to affect his or her actions (e.g. knowing which hallway their locker is in, and how to open it). The consolidation portion, where experiences are processed, organized, and then stored as memories, takes place when your child is sleeping. Many studies suggest that inadequate sleep can deprive your child of this crucial phase, limiting the ability to learn and remember what was learned.
- Sleep aids in critical thinking.While researchers are working to better understand the links, studies indicate that lack of sleep impairs the frontal lobe of the brain. This inhibits so called "executive functions" that affect problem-solving and judgement, as well as organizational and planning skills‚Ä¶all traits necessary for success in the classroom.
- Sleep improves concentration.A lack of quality sleep can also potentially shorten your child' attention span, limit his or her ability to concentrate, and ultimately can lead to mistakes.
- Sleep speeds up reaction time.A lack of sleep, studies have shown, can sometimes triple reaction time, making them less able to think on their feet.
- Sleep improves mood.Inadequate sleep can not only make your child irritable, it can potentially trigger anxiety or depression, and put stress on personal relationships, such as those with classmates and teachers.
- Support and comfort.A quality mattress is key for providing healthy spine support and alignment for growing bodies. Support also equates to comfort, which in turn promotes restful sleep.
- Allergy and mattress protection.Dust mites, bed bugs, mold, and a variety of other allergy inducers and sleep inhibitors conspire to rob your child of vital rest. Protective mattress and pillow encasements can keep his or her bed pest and allergen-free, preventing nights spent sneezing and itchy. This can be especially important for college-aged students who are sleeping on dorm room mattresses.
- Proper head and neck alignment.All pillows are not created equal. The right pillow can ensure proper support and positioning for nighttime comfort, pain-free days, and more restful slumber.
- Temperature and humidity.A room that is too hot and humid, for example, can make it harder for your child to get proper, deep sleep. In addition, those conditions are ripe for allergen inducers such as mold and dust mites. Keep relative humidity between 30 and 50%, and maintain a bedroom temperature around 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sleep tracking.Kids today are more technically savvy than they have ever been. Put their smartphone skills to good use by having them monitor their sleep with a sleep tracking device. This helps them make sure they're getting enough sleep, and better understand the relationships between their daytime habits (like diet and exercise) and the quality of their nighttime rest.