We all know that good grades are important to your high school success, as well as your chances of admission to college. We also know that boosting those grades by just a few points can entail a lot of work. It’s worth it, of course, but the necessary effort can seem a bit overwhelming.
We have some good news for you. While there is never any substitute for good study habits, there is one thing you can do to begin improving your grades right away. And it’s surprisingly easy!
The secret we’re referencing here is sleep. Now, who can’t do a little more of that?
Researchers agree, and numerous studies such as this one have pointed to the importance of adequate sleep – especially for teenagers. The author of this particular study, from the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, states:
Associations of reduced sleep with poorer school performance beg the question of how prelearning and posttraining sleep affect the learning process. Thus, insufficient sleep can impair acquisition and retrieval when sleep reduction results in sleepiness, irritability, distractibility, inattention, and lack of motivation. Strong evidence indicates that adequate sleep enhances memory consolidation and resistance to interference. Hence, insufficient sleep can also threaten learning by jeopardizing this part of the memory formation process.
This probably doesn’t come as big news to you. After all, you’ve probably noticed that you feel distracted or forgetful when you’re tired. Conversely, a good night’s sleep helps you to feel focused and sharp, like an engine running at maximum performance.
Obviously, getting a solid 8 to 10 hours of sleep is easier said than done. Otherwise, you’d be doing it already! But we can offer these tips to help you improve your sleeping habits:
- Stay away from screens (smartphone, tablet, computer, and TV) for at least two hours before bedtime.
- Limit caffeine intake after 3 pm.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Yes, even on the weekends.
- Exercise daily, but not too late in the day. Adrenaline will keep you awake.
- Wind down with reading, a warm (non caffeinated beverage), yoga, journaling, or any other activity that helps you unwind.
- Ask your parents for room darkening shades, ear plugs, a white noise machine, better bedding and pillows, or anything else that helps you feel more comfortable.
- Bring up potential health issues with your parents and/or doctor. These could affect your sleep.
And, of course, try not to lie in bed feeling stressed about how much time you have to sleep! It sounds silly but it’s surprisingly common. Just make your best effort, try to relax, and give the above tips time to work. After a week or two, you will slip into a better sleep routine, and you might be surprised at how much better you feel during the day.