How Sleep Affects Your Studies

Student sleeping after studying
In post-secondary education, time is of the essence. For many, days are long and consist of eating, studying, going to class, working, studying, studying some more, sleeping, and then repeating it all the next day. But, does taking that extra couple of hours at night to study help or hinder your learning? Could sleep be the key to academic success? Research says yes.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is essential for human survival so it’s no surprise that sleep deprivation can cause some serious issues. Not only can inadequate sleep leave you feeling groggy, cloudy minded, and irritable, but it can also impede your abilities to

receive information

. In other words, not getting enough sleep can make learning new material tough.

Sleep deprivation also has a negative impact on overall mood, and when your mood is unstable it can make processing new information much more difficult.

Sleep and Memory

To form a memory, there is a process involved consisting of

acquisition, consolidation, and recall

. Obviously, acquisition is learning of new information, but consolidation is when this information becomes ingrained to memory. Then, recall is simply being able to access this memory when required.

Now, acquisition and recall are clear functions that are used when someone is awake since they need to actually mentally grasp this information by choice. However, consolidation is said to occur when one is asleep which would mean that sleep is required to form memories. Therefore, without adequate sleep, information will not consolidate and the ability to recall this information will be much harder.

Adequate Sleep

Getting adequate sleep isn’t only ideal for memory formation, but it is also necessary for proper immune function, mood regulation, and allowing the body to replenish itself. Adults need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep per night and it is suggested that keeping a regular bedtime routine can help support this sleep cycle. This routine should consist of closing all electronics at a specific time (at least 30-60 minutes before bed), no caffeine after 3PM to ensure falling asleep is possible, and keeping your bedroom at a cool but comfortable temperature.