Sleep. Parents crave it, but children and especially teenagers, need it.
Scientists say that a primary purpose of sleep is called “learning consolidation. This is when you sort out the lessons and information you learned while you were awake.
Children need to learn “sleep study skills” to use sleep as a learning tool.
A full night’s sleep includes several distinct brain states. These include rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, deep sleep and Stage two sleep. Each of these states handles a different kind of job. Getting sleep is not just something you “should do” or need. It is your best friend when you want to get really good at something.
Studies have found that the first half of the night contains the richest dose of deep sleep. This is when the brain works on facts and figures and new words. This is when information is retained. Without deep sleep (if we stay up too late), we are foggier the next day on those basic facts.
The second half of a night’s sleep is filled with Stage 2 sleep. Stage 2 sleep works on motor memory. This refines skills learned during physical activities.
REM sleep is when you are dreaming. Studies find that REM sleep is very good for understanding hidden patterns and finding solutions to hard problems. Math tests strain both memory and understanding. This is an area where REM sleep is best.
Older teenage students can use these learning stages of sleep to be smart about sleep before an important test or performance.
Napping is sleep too. It is a miniature version of a full night’s slumber. An hour-long nap typically contains deep sleep, REM sleep and some Stage 2 sleep. An important point is that suddenly feeling tired during a period of work is the brain’s way of saying, “O.K., I’ve studied (or practiced) enough, now it’s time to digest this material.”
Going to sleep late or waking up very early may solve some problems. Learning is not one of them.
Source: The New York Times October 16, 2014