Dixie Darr

In creativity, Learning on December 3, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Sleep on it

When I tell my students that sleep is very important to their brain functioning, they nod in boredom and roll their eyes. While they can accept that some of them are natural morning people and some are nightowls, they typically believe that sleep is a waste of time. Most already sleep fewer than six hours a night.
A few months ago, I discovered Brain Rules by brain researcher, John J. Medina. This fascinating book describes 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Rule #7 is Sleep well. Think well. The book comes with an entertaining and accessible DVD.
Apparently, people are more likely to listen to a scientist than a teacher when it comes to the need for sleep. The week after I showed the video, a student reported that he had tried taking a 30-minute nap before studying and found, much to his surprise, that he was able to finish his work quickly and easily and retain more of what he read.
Faced with his testimony, some of his more skeptical classmates thought they might just try it themselves.
Today came news that a national panel of medical experts is recommending mandatory sleep breaks and more structured shift changes for medical students to reduce the risk of fatigue-related errors. It’s nice when doctors finally accept that they are not super-human after all.

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