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Successful Student Habit #1: Get Enough Sleep!

school successWhat is sleep for, anyway? It may seem like a waste to spend 1/3 of every day snoozing; why not binge-watch a good show or do some extra online shopping instead?

Yet, research keeps pouring out about the importance of sleep. Inadequate sleep is implicated in anxiety, depression, other emotional disorders, attention issues, unhealthy weight gain and poor cognition.

Sleep, literally, clears the mind. The brain cleans out toxins during sleep. That’s why you feel fuzzy-headed when you’re sleep deprived; your brain is full of gunk! No wonder people don’t think or learn well without adequate sleep.


And sleep is essential to learning, because the material we learn during the day needs to be processed and stored into long-term memory during sleep.

All that studying is counter-productive if you are staying up too late to then “sleep on it” and let the information sink in. It’s better to sleep for an extra hour than to stay up doing last-minute studying for that hour!

I know we all feel short on time and pulled in a million directions. But Mother Nature insists that the #1 priority must be sleep.

Establish these routines to make sure you get the sleep you need to think well and learn well!

  • Do your homework right after school. Don’t take a break first, because you’ll lose momentum and become even more tired. Dive right in, get the work finished, and then enjoy your evening (and get to bed on time!)
  • Look for small bits of time during the day to get started on studying. Even those two minutes before class begins can be used to begin reading an assignment, think about a paper topic, or start a math problem (you need not finish it right then and there).
  • Don’t allow electronics in your bedroom. Keep your phone and computer downstairs.
  • Set a bedtime that allows 9-10 hours of sleep. Yes, that’s how much sleep teenagers need!! 
  • Some favorite activities simply will not fit into the weekday schedule; save parties, sleep-overs and movies for the weekend.
  • Turn off glowing screens one hour before bedtime. The blue light from computers, TVs and smart phones disrupts sleep.
  • Review flash cards and vocabulary lists before bed; you’ll wake up remembering them better!
  • Read a book in bed before you go to sleep. This quiet ritual will train your brain to relax and sleep soundly.
  • Record your favorite shows and watch them on the weekend. DO NOT watch exciting TV shows right before bed!

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Successful Student Habit #1: Get Enough Sleep!

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS is an educator, counselor, writer and speaker. She's been a tutor, test prep coach and home school teacher for over thirty years. Click HERE to visit Leigh's website and to subscribe to her newsletter, "Learning Something New."

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APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2016). Successful Student Habit #1: Get Enough Sleep!. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Sep 2016
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