Guide to Sleep

Sleep. We all know we need it but sometimes we short-change ourselves when it comes to sleep. Yet a lack of sleep affects our memory, mood and general cognition; not the sort of thing you want happening when you have an assignment due or you are sitting an exam. So, check out this module and find out how a good night's sleep can actually improve your marks!

Students on sleep

Students share their sleep stories. [Duration 2:47] Transcript

Expert on sleep

Danny Eckert, a Sleep Researcher from Flinders University, shares his tips on Sleep for students. [Duration 2:26] Transcript

Sleep self help resources

The Centre for Clinical Interventions has information about sleep and worksheets on how to manage sleep problems.

Additional self resources can be found here:

More resources

A lack of sleep has a huge impact on your studies and wellbeing. Check out these resources for more information about sleep.

Useful apps

  • Happy Nap
    Free for iPhone.
    Keeps your nap time between 15 – 30 minutes and wakes you at the optimal time in your sleep cycle.
  • Relax and Sleep Well
    Free and Available for iPhone and Android – 27 minute hypnosis designed for relaxation and self-hypnosis.
  • Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
    An intelligent alarm clock that analyses your sleep and wakes you in the lightest sleep phase.
  • Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep
    Free for Android – A choice of different nature sound tracks to enable you to relax
  • Smiling Minds
    Stop, Breath, Relax

Self reflection space

1:In the last 2 weeks how many hours, on average, did you sleep each night?   Danny Eckert, Sleep researcher from NEURA says you should aim for at least 7 hour a sleep a night. More is ok.

2:How would you rate the quality of your sleep?

  • Very good (awoke refreshed)
  • Good (slept through but was still tired in the morning)
  • Moderate (some restlessness or difficulty falling to sleep, but overall ok)
  • Poor (reduced sleep, difficulty sleeping, wakefulness)
  • Awful (feel like a barely sleep)

If it is poor or awful get some help for you sleep challenges. If it is moderate try some of the suggestions in the module.

3:To what extent to you feel the quality of your day to day experiences (thinking, concentrating, decision making, mood, energy, relationships etc.) would be improved by better quality sleep?

Summary: sleep and improve your marks!

Did you know that sleep is an easy way to improve your academic performance and marks?

 Stijn Baert, in his journal article "Mister Sandman, Bring Me Good Marks!", found the "grades of students who slept for seven hours each night during the exam period were nearly 10% higher than those of students who got less sleep." 

But how much sleep do you actually need?

Scientists have shown that adults need 7-9 hours sleep per night but the exact amount varies from person to person. A good indication as to whether you are getting enough sleep or not is how you feel after lunch.

Note though, the type of sleeper you are varies from person to person. Some people sleep very deeply while others are light sleepers. But don’t worry, if you are a light sleeper it is considered normal to wake up at some point at night and as long as you are resting or dozing that is considered ok. Just get your 7 to 9 hours.

So what really happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep? And how does that impact on your performance?

You are probably familiar with the signs your body gives you when you don’t get enough sleep. You may feel lethargic, unmotivated and sluggish but did you know that a lack of sleep can affect your mood, mind and body in the following ways:

  • You may be emotional, get upset or angry more easily.

  • You will find it harder to pay attention and you will lose energy and motivation.

  • You will lose your ability to receive information and access previously learned information. Which is not good news as a student.

  • You will find it harder to do various physical tasks and make decisions and judgements.

  • And to top it off your immune system will become more vulnerable to illness and inflammation.

  • But there is an even worse outcome from lack of sleep! Your brain detoxifies while you sleep and if you cut sleep, then your brain hasn’t had time to complete the detox job. This can lead to serious health problems such as diabetics, obesity and early onset dementia.

On the upside, we know that for students the pay-off from a good night sleep shows up in academic performance. Researchers have shown that for those who extended their sleep duration from six to seven hours enjoyed an average increase of 1.7 points (on a scale of 20) for each exam.

So, the message is clear: not getting enough sleep results in cognitive decline and an increased risk of a number of health issues. Next time you are thinking about pulling an all-nighter ask yourself: “Am I going to really get any benefit from short-changing my sleep needs?" Get a good night's sleep and reap the rewards. If you are worried about your sleep habits, check out the strategies and resource sections in this module or talk to a doctor or counsellor.

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