Sleep Your Way to Success!

High school students need more sleep! I have been teaching at the secondary and college levels for over three decades, and I’ve noticed that the most successful students have something in common: They are well organized. They can manage their time effectively, thus avoiding cramming time and allowing for discretionary time.
I’ve recently added a separate study skills component to my instructional programs, so I’ve done research on brain development and methods of improving concentration, focus, and memory. I can provide exercises to practice these skills, and I can suggest methods for prioritizing tasks. Yet the success of all of these strategies relies heavily on two other aspects over which I have no control: nutrition and sleep.
Students need to eat regular meals that contain the right balance of protein and carbohydrates at the correct times during their day. For example, most students don’t realize that eating protein before class will boost their ability to concentrate, while having a lunch heavy on carbohydrates can hinder their focus because they experience post-prandial sleepiness.
Furthermore, studies prove that those who sleep about ten hours a night perform mental and physical tasks better than those who get less sleep. I regularly inquire about the number of hours my students receive, and the standard answer is “About six hours.” That is insufficient! And the school schedule is not conducive to the habits of the normal teenager, with classes generally starting before 8:00 am, which is akin to having them working in the middle of the night. So students need to accommodate the school schedule and budget their time well enough to allow them to have a good night’s sleep or all of the practice can go to waste!

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