Screens, sleep and study

by | Jul 17, 2018

A good night’s sleep is essential for productive study in two main ways. Firstly, a well-rested brain is a brain that is able to focus it’s attention and therefore is able to learn efficiently. Secondly, during R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) or deep sleep, the brain repairs itself and transfers new information from short-term to long-term memory, which is one of the most important parts of effective learning.  (After all, if you learn something today but forget it before tomorrow, it was a bit of a waste of time and effort.) As well as being an important ingredient for effective learning, a good sleep cycle “is the foundation of all physical and mental health,” Dr Sarah Blunden (South Australian sleep researcher).

The most important ingredient for a good night’s sleep is melatonin. It helps the body get into a good sleep cycle and is often what makes you start to feel tired in the evening. As the sun goes down, and the daylight fades away, your body naturally begins to produce melatonin. This gives your brain and body the signal that it is time to sleep and go into repair mode after all the learning and activity of the day.

Unfortunately for us, light from digital screens in the evening can affect melatonin production. This gives your brain and body the impression you aren’t ready for sleep. The screens also emit light that tricks the brain into thinking that it is still daytime. This interrupts a normal sleep cycle and can contribute to insomnia or sleep deprivation. This is the same trick that commercial florists use to keep roses flowering both in and out of season. Sneaky florists…

Now that the school holidays are over, and your children have had the chance to binge-watch and catch up on a few seasons of their favourite shows on Netflix or Stan, it is time for their brains to get back into efficient learning mode. Research suggests that in order to get effective sleep, screens should be turned off at least an hour before bedtime so that the body has a chance to produce the correct Melatonin levels.

Let’s work together and remind them to turn off the screens, so they can sleep well, to prepare for effective and efficient study this semester.

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