Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sleeping Your Way to the Top

According to an article in the most recent (January 16, 2006) issue of TIME Magazine, 71 percent of American adults do not average eight hours of sleep.

The article, entitled "Sleeping Your Way to the Top," by Sora Song, cites a 2003 sleep study's results—"The human brain is only capable of about 16 hours of wakefulness [a day] ... When you get beyond that, it can't function as efficiently, as accurately or as well."

Sleeping less than your body requires erodes productive capability, according to the researchers.

Although people think of sleep as a necessity to avoid physical fatigue, Song points out: "What most people don't realize is that the purpose of sleep may be more to rest the mind than to rest the body.  Indeed, most of the benefits of eight hours' sleep seem to accrue to the brain: sleep helps consolidate memory, improve judgment, promote learning and concentration, boost mood, speed reaction time and sharpen problem solving and accuracy."

The next time you work with your students, ask them how much they are sleeping.  Many students I encounter tell me they are "lucky" to get six hours of sleep each night.  Many "get by" on five or six.

My thought?  They are unlucky to get six hours of sleep each night.  Actually, luck has little to do with it.  Poor planning is the reason—or an unrealistic sense of priority.

Ask your students, "Would you want your lawyer to be suffering from poor memory, less than adequate judgment, less than optimal concentration, and dull problem solving capabilities when your trial begins?"

The article includes this eye-opening fact: results of sleeping too little "...may even mimic the symptoms of dementia."

Ask your students, "Do you want to mimic the symptoms of dementia in class?"

Do the math: " ... in giving up two hours of bedtime to do more work, you’re losing a quarter of your recommended nightly dose and gaining just 12 percent more time during the day.”  Trading a bit of "awake" time for a higher rate of productivity makes more sense doesn’t it?  (djt)

Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink

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