Eight ways you can improve your sleep
and get better grades

Sleep to Get Good Grades?

It’s back to school time. Are you wondering how to prepare for it? Here are some suggestions that will help you stay alert and be at your best all year long.

At work and at school, the pillars on which optimal performance is based are healthy eating, regular physical activity and healthy sleep. And yes, all these directly affect your school results.

Did you know that increasing the number of hours of sleep could increase your grades? Yes, simply by sleeping more or better.
For example, a study found that students with C, D, or F grades averaged 25-30 min less sleep per weeknight than did their peers with better grades. In addition, better sleep efficiency has been found to be associated with better report card grades in Math, English, and French among Canadian students.

Sleep plays a critical role in optimizing the learning process and memory, and in our ability to learn after a busy day.

A rested brain is a brain that is able to be attentive in class without needing a superhuman effort not to fall asleep – head on the desk – in front of the teacher.

A rested brain is more creative, cheerful, motivated, and open to others than a brain that rushes out of bed and struggles to find the energy to keep your eyes open.

How can one get better sleep?

Key actions to avoid contracting a sleep debt include: (see also sections on sleep needs at different ages: Sleep: a personal and lifelong natural need  and Age-specific dos and don’ts : sleep on it !)

Tips to get the best out of sleep:

1. Keep as regular as possible a sleep-wake schedule (within 30 minutes to an hour) even on weekends.

The body clock needs to be fine-tuned to stay in the same time zone to avoid the negative effects of being “jetlagged”. Don’t forget to expose yourself to daylight as much as possible to help your body clock keep time.

2. Sleep the amount of time you need within the age-appropriate recommended sleep time.

For example, school age children need nine to 11 hours of sleep per night; teenagers need eight to ten hours and adults need seven to nine hours. For the brain to recharge and do its night work properly, you need to sleep enough in one go. This means you should reduce to a minimum sleep interruption. For example, at night turn off all electronic devices and do not answer messages while you sleep to get the right amount of uninterrupted sleep.

3. Sleep in your personal best time as much as possible; early birds and night owl adults, this is for you especially.

Another example is teens, which naturally have a later sleep phase compared to adults. Their need to sleep arises later in the evening and also ends later in the morning than adults.

4. Practice sleep hygiene that takes into account the two other pillars of health, nutrition and exercise.

For example, drink sufficiently, don’t eat a heavy meal before going to bed, keep your caffeine and alcohol consumption to a minimum, and exercise as recommended but not too close to your bedtime.

5. Prepare for sleep by creating a relaxing and consistent routine.

Think of limiting stress and screen time before going to bed too.

6. Set the scene for sleep with a safe and comfortable sleep environment.

Find the optimal room temperature, bedding, ambient noise and light exposure. Your bedroom should be a safe place for sleep and intimacy only.

7. Listen to your bed partner. Bed partners are good at raising the red flag for sleep troubles such as sleep apnea.

8. If sleep is an issue for you, talk about it with health and sleep professionals.

So tonight, think about it and put your brain to bed at a reasonable time, dear student. It’s a simple and effective way to ensure productive and enjoyable school days. Parents, the brain of your teens still need your help; turn off the lights to light up your youth.

Credit: The Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network (CSCN), Reut Gruber from the Canadian Sleep Society (CSS) and Immerscience