I know you know sleep is important for health, but what about its impact on our cognitive performance?
MIT researchers put fitness trackers on 100 students and measured their sleep patterns and analyzed the relationship between sleep and performance in exams.
It might be no surprise that better quality, longer duration and greater consistency of sleep correlates with better grades.
Sleep measures accounted for nearly 25% of the variance in academic performance!
What was interesting was that there was no correlation between sleep the night before and the exam result, and instead the sleep in the month and week up to the exam is what counted. Bottom line, consistency trumps one offs.
What's also interesting is duration of sleep was strongly positively correlated with results, but even more strongly correlated was sleep quality (the researchers determined this from wearer’s heart-rate variability which fluctuates during transitions between different stages of sleep).
So to make it count, get your 7-8 hours in, and make them good ones!
How? Here are some tips:
- Screens in night mode after dark, and off well before bed, easiest to make the bedroom a phone free location (phone alarm just outside the door also is a great way to force yourself up in the mornings)
- Make your bedroom associated with sleep, watch your Netflix on the sofa
- Keep the temperature slightly on the cooler side, you'll be better rested that way
- Don't eat within the few hours before sleep, the work of digestion will make it harder to fall and stay asleep
- Caffeine has a "half life" of 5 hours, so even a coffee after lunch is still going to have a lot of residual caffeine in your blood stream at night. So get yours in the morning if you're a java junkie.
- Craft a sleep routine, that trains you to start winding down in a consistent way and consistent time. Some elements that work well are stretching, self massage, deep breathing etc. If you're into essential oils, they also can work well. Savor the feeling of gently winding down, caring for yourself and preparing for the land of nod... (yawn)