Mar 23, 2011

The importance of sleep

My English teacher is prone to going off on a tangent, and that's what she did yesterday. She told us that according to statistics, adolescents require 7 point something to 8 point something hours of sleep per day. But on average, teenagers are only getting 6-7 hours of sleep. I'll admit here that I'm guilty of that. For one reason or another, I seem to sleep late and I'm sure the story is the same for most people my age. Going around the class, 6 or 7 hours of sleep is the most common answer.

She says that students are always operating on sleep-derived mode and that we only manage that because:
1. Most of us are fit and healthy (there's no obesity problem at school)
2. Most of us have good diets, especially those with Asian backgrounds eat lots of vegetables.
3. We're all water conscious (we drink enough water) and we exercise etc.

She said that if they had the choice, they would have school from 10 to 4, because that's when teenagers will work best. Adolescents naturally want to sleep in later in the mornings, that's how our body works. She taught us a trick to help us sleep better (that I knew already, but anyway): heat a small cup of milk in the microwave oven for 1 minute and 27 seconds, and that produces chemicals that help you sleep. Today a lot of girls said that they tried it, they slept more and they felt a lot better for it. I know it'll help, and I probably make it one of my goals to try and sleep earlier.

Adolescents also save up their sleep and sleep in til noon or something on weekends (that's not something I do, for one, Grandma won't let me). She said that's actually not good for you. It takes 3 days to make habit and 3 days to break it. So on Monday you're forced to wake up early and your body goes into shock. You're not used to it, that's why we feel especially tired on Monday (so there is a reason!)

She also said that when the HSC comes, being healthy and well rested gets you half the marks. Memorising facts doesn't matter because you don't know what would happen on the day (that's what she said). I think that is something that will be a very big part of getting a good HSC mark. I've had it happen so many times that I slept late the night before an exam and got a really bad mark because my eyelids were drooping the whole time. I made so many silly mistakes because I was just feeling so groggy.

She also mentioned an experiment involving the use (or not) of Facebook. All the HSC students in a girls school (not Sydney Girls) agreed, as a grade, to not use Facebook for 6 months before the HSC. They all said they felt a lot more relaxed, they all felt better about their work load. And their HSC mark was actually better than their class mark. They said that the lack of the pressure to keep checking, keep updated and the pressure to respond is a big stress buster. That's something for you to chew on, so you think I should get a Facebook and stop using it 6 months before HSC to get this effect?

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