004 - Sleep and Learning

Post date: Nov 10, 2015 2:21:14 PM

Counselor Notes 4

January 31, 2012

Sleep and Learning

1. Sleep is Important For Learning

The brain's frontal cortex relies on sleep to function effectively. Insufficient rest adversely affects the frontal cortex's ability to control speech, access memory, and solve problems. http://www.sleep-deprivation.com/

· “scientists believe REM sleep may be important for complex brain functions, such as learning and consolidating new memories….”

· “… the amount of REM sleep increases after periods of stress or intense learning.”

Psychology In Action, Karen Huffman, 8th ed. (Note: REM is the stage of sleep in which a person dreams)

Getting enough sleep may help student grades:

· University of Pittsburgh revealed that poor sleep habits among high-schoolers led to lower grades, particularly in math.

· Overall, teens with poor sleep habits …. received lower grades than students who stuck with a more regular sleep routine. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1903838,00.html

· Sleep loss causes a range of schooling problems, including naughtiness and poor concentration.

Chronically sleep-deprived teenagers are more likely to have problems with impulse control, which leads to risk-taking behaviors.

High school students who regularly score C, D or F in school tests and assignments get, on average, half an hour less sleep per night than high school students who regularly get A and B grades. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Sleep_deprivation?OpenDocument

“It's not just memory that is improved by sleep. Recent studies indicate that sleep not only helps store facts, it also helps make connections between them. … a recent study by Ullrich Wagner and colleagues in Germany does. Wagner used a puzzle in which players were given a string of numbers, and required to make a series of seven calculations based on these numbers. The seventh calculation (which depended on the preceding six) was the "answer." Participants repeatedly played the same game with the same rules, but different sets of numbers. Some of the players played the game in the morning, then did other things for eight hours or so, then played the game again. Others played the game first in the evening, then slept, then played it again after awakening.”

“The players who slept did somewhat better—but that was not the important result. Cleverly, the researchers structured the game such that the second calculation always gave the same answer as the seventh calculation—the final answer. If players recognized this "hidden rule," they could get to the final answer much faster—and speed was a part of the game. The players who slept were almost three times more likely to have the insight that allowed them to spot the hidden rule—even though none of the players had been told there was a hidden rule to spot. Sleeping had allowed them to connect the dots.” http://www.newsweek.com/id/194650

From http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=brainbriefings_sleepandlearning :

“In some of the work, researchers trained people to complete a procedural memory-based task and then determined if sleep improved their performance. Several studies show that it does. In one recent example, participants had to repeatedly type a sequence on a keyboard. A group trained in the morning and then tested 12 hours later showed no significant improvement. But a full night's sleep improved their performance by almost 20 percent. Another group, trained in the evening, improved their performance by about 20 percent after a full night's sleep. But after another 12 hours of staying awake, they showed hardly any improvement. This shows that sleep, not time, aids the learning.”

2. Children Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

From http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/sleep-children

· 3-6 Years Old: 10 - 12 hours per day

· 7-12 Years Old: 10 - 11 hours per day (the average child is getting only about 9 hours)

· 12-18 Years Old: 8 - 9 hours per day (teenagers generally get an average of only 7.4 hours a night) http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/teensandsleep/a/teenssleepwell.htm

Overstimulated, over-scheduled kids are getting at least an hour’s less sleep than they need, a deficiency that, new research reveals, has the power to set their cognitive abilities back years. http://nymag.com/news/features/38951/

It has been documented in a handful of major studies that children, from elementary school through high school, get about an hour less sleep each night than they did 30 years ago…. Even kindergartners get 30 minutes less a night than they used to. http://nymag.com/news/features/38951/

Half of all adolescents get less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights. By the time they are seniors in high school, according to studies by the University of Kentucky, they average only slightly more than 6.5 hours of sleep a night. Only 5 percent of high-school seniors average eight hours. http://nymag.com/news/features/38951/

According to surveys by the National Sleep Foundation, 90 percent of American parents think their child is getting enough sleep. The kids themselves say otherwise. In those same surveys, 60 percent of high schoolers report extreme daytime sleepiness. In another study, a quarter admit their grades have dropped because of it. Over 25 percent fall asleep in class at least once a week. http://nymag.com/news/features/38951/

“Sleep-deprivation experiments have shown that a tired brain has a difficult time capturing memories of all sorts. Interestingly, sleep deprivation is more likely to cause us to forget information associated with positive emotion than information linked to negative emotion. This could explain, at least in part, why sleep deprivation can trigger depression in some people: memories tainted with negative emotions are more likely than positive ones to "stick" in the sleep-deprived brain.” http://www.newsweek.com/id/194650

3. Signs of Lack of Sleep

Sleep deprivation affects children in different ways to adults. Sleepy children tend to ‘speed up’ rather than slow down. Symptoms include:

· Moodiness and irritability.

· Temper tantrums.

· The tendency to emotionally ‘explode’ at the slightest provocation.

· Over-activity and hyperactive behavior.


As good parents want their children to learn the most they can while at school, it may the child if the parents take a close look at whether the child's sleep needs are being met.

Coming next month: tips on getting a good night's sleep.

Doug Muha Ed.S.

School Counselor

Waverly Elementary School