Exam scores benefit from months of regular sleep!

This headline from the Society for Science & the Public underscores the benefit of  consistent sleep patterns. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that teens sleep 8 to 10 hours a night. However, most teens are sleep-deprived:sleeping 6 hours or less. Factors contributing to poor sleep habits include early morning school schedules, long hours of after-school commitments, and excessive  screen time. According to the Start School Later project: Many schools start too early in the morning to allow students to get the sleep they need ​— and that’s taking a toll on their health, safety, and learning. ​

Changes to the school schedule occur glacially: To date, only the California legislature has approved later start times, with some provisions: The bill exempts rural districts because of bus scheduling challenges. Start times would exclude “zero periods,” which are optional courses offered by some schools before the regular school day begins. The implementation period has also been stretched to three years to give districts time to prepare for the changes.

Students need to make sleep a priority.  While getting a full sleep complement the night before an exam may help somewhat, studies demonstrate that the consistency of restful sleep plays a more important part in performance on exams. Cramming before the big test with an “all-nighter”is ineffectual. An MIT study  demonstrated that a crucial factor is consistency of sleep a week — and even a month — before an exam.  “A student who sleeps seven hours at night, every night, will do better than a student who sleeps 7.5 hours one night and 6.5 another night.  . . Sleep length, quality and consistency together accounted for 24.4 percent of the difference among the students’ test grades. . . .  especially important for boys.

So, turn off the screens, turn out the lights, and SLEEP!