For a nation that aims at attempting big challenges, to be deprived of sleep is both draconian and retrograde. Sleep plays an important role in the trajectory of students’ academic performance. According to a study conducted by Philips, nearly 93% Indians are sleep deprived, getting less than 8 hours of sleep they need per day. Another statistics from Fitbit states, “Indians are one of the poorest sleepers in the world, clocking in an average of 6.55 hours, which is far lower than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep”.
Sleep researchers, on the other hand, have found an association between students who go to bed late and pull “all nighters” with poorer academic achievement. Further, according to a report, as sleep quantity and quality decrease, academic performance worsens. The National Sleep Foundation, NFS, asserts, “Students reporting poorer sleep qualities perform worse on tests than students reporting better quality sleep”. It also states that sleep deprivation impairs students’ ability to recognize and correct errors.
What contributes to sleep deprivation in students?
Sleep deprivation can be caused by a host of reasons such as delayed sleep schedule, consuming caffeinated and energy drinks, ubiquitous use of technology right before bedtime, etc. Research shows that often students go to sleep late in the night and wake up before acquiring adequate amount of sleep. As a result, they feel sleepy all day long, which in turn disrupts their sleep pattern, causing sleep disorders.
To combat sleepiness and increase alertness of mind, students tend to drink caffeine and energy drinks which sustain wakefulness and increase sleep latency, by that contributing to sleep deprivation. Another common cause of reduced sleep is using cell phone, sitting for hours on computer or laptop, playing video games, which not only heightens cognitive alertness but also impacts sleep due to the light emitting from these sources.
True, that effect of sleep deprivation manifest in both health and performance. So what consequences can sleep deficiency have and what role does sleep plays in your academic performance?
In today’s competitive era, where everyone is battling to outperform the other and win the rat race, importance of sleep has been sidelined, while other tasks have gained priority over it. In order to keep up with the ongoing academic and social demands of school life, some students disregard the need for sleep. They fail to strike a balance between meeting academic deadlines and simultaneously preparing for critical entrance exams. As a result, their schedule becomes highly erratic and interferes with their normal sleep pattern.
They fail to understand that sleep is a critical factor for academic success and general well being. Sleep deprivation impacts the academic performance of students and has many serious consequences.
It is linked to low grades and low scores in school. Sleep deprivation adversely affects brain and cognitive function, including one’s decision making process and attention. Sleep deprivation results in both short and long term consequences. It impacts students’ ability to succeed academically and personally, makes them less productive, and stimulates laziness and lethargy. In addition, students complain of poor concentration level, mode swings, failure, fatigue, headache and losing on the important information imparted during the class. Apart from that, sleep deficiency results in sleep disorders, an issue of major concern among today’s youth. Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, Restless Legs Syndrome, snoring are some of the most prevalent ones.
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Or so goes the saying. However, in today’s ever demanding world, escalating level of stress, varying class timings, different class schedules, tight deadlines, strenuous exam preparation and busy social life often results into students running a high risk of not getting an adequate amount of sleep. In order to improve sleep pattern, students need to improve their sleep hygiene.
Eating light dinner, avoiding caffeinated and energy drinks, reducing technological use, conforming to a bedtime schedule can help improve not only sleep habits but also academic performance.
Further, schools need to understand, acknowledge and publicise that policies and class schedules substantially impacts the sleep, learning and health of their students. Good sleep habits should be promoted and prioritised by both teachers as well as parents. Moreover, students should be encouraged to follow a daily schedule which would help them balance their studies and social life. Remember sleep is a necessity and not a luxury. It is not something that can be neglected. Sleep is a basic need and plays a vital role in our physical, intellectual and emotional health.
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