Why sleep quality matters during exams – South Coast Herald | Rare Techy
Matric students all over the country are currently taking their final exams. Additional test-related stress and anxiety can cause students to pull “all-nighters” or not sleep for tests.
Unfortunately, all-nighters can negatively affect your teen’s grades. Better sleep can be the answer to higher test scores.
What sleep needs do teenagers have?
Teenagers need eight to ten hours of sleep a night.
Our circadian rhythms, also known as internal body clocks, regulate our natural sleep schedule. Unfortunately, this circadian shift occurs during adolescence. A change in sleep schedule can lead to negative consequences such as poor mood and concentration, as well as increased feelings of depression.
If you consistently cut your sleep short, sleep deprivation can develop quickly or gradually. Losing one hour of sleep per night for a week causes cognitive impairments similar to those of a full night’s sleeper. Most students only sleep about six hours a night during finals, so they are definitely sleep deprived.
During finals week, none more so than teenagers taking matric. It is important for parents to do everything they can to improve their child’s sleep during this time.
Here are six tips to help your child sleep more during exams.
Let your child sleep
Students who sleep more often have higher grade point averages. Research shows that taking a nap immediately after learning something increases memory of the material by 11%. However, there is a fine line between sleeping enough and sleeping too much. Your teen should limit naps to 20 to 30 minutes and schedule them to end in the afternoon. Otherwise, they may have trouble sleeping that night.
Help them maintain a regular sleep schedule
Encourage your teen to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (including weekends). Inconsistent sleep is associated with lower grade point averages, while consistent sleep can improve academic performance.
Make sure they have a quiet sleeping environment
Create a quiet, dark sleep environment for your teen by installing block-out curtains in their room and buying them earplugs if outside noise is a concern. Weighted blankets may help some teens relieve anxiety, although they can be hot in the summer.
Limit smartphone use after sleep
Because of the blue light they emit, electronics can trick your teen past their bedtime. Make sure they turn off their phones at least 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed.
Encourage daily physical activity
Even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block, daily exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. Since your teen is pressed for time during exams, encourage them to do a few minutes of cardio as soon as they wake up. This will give them an extra boost of energy, as well as help reset their circadian rhythm and improve their sleep.
Limit your teen’s caffeine intake
Because exams can be so exhausting, it’s natural for your teen to crave energy drinks, coffee, and snacks whenever they need a pick-me-up. Unfortunately, these will most likely disrupt their sleep. Watch your teen’s caffeine intake during the exam. Limit their intake to 400 milligrams per day and encourage them to stop drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages at least eight hours before bedtime.