Limit screen time for better sleep – and academic performance

During recent restless nights, I’ve resisted the urge to grab my iPhone and scroll through Instagram or reply to emails. That’s because I’ve become more and more convinced that its bright little screen provides too much stimulation–or perhaps just the wrong kind of stimulation–for my tired eyes.

One aspect of tutoring and study skills coaching I love most is taking an holistic approach to a students’ processes and systems. Benedict Carey, a writer at NY Times’ parenting blog The Motherlode, unpacks both the science and the pragmatism of curating what might be the most important activity students perform right before a big test. Studying all night, right? Nope–sleeping well.

In a recent post, Carey has this to say about sleep before a big math test (e.g., SAT or ACT):

Math tests strain both memory (retention) and understanding (comprehension). This is where REM sleep, the dreaming kind, comes in. Studies find that REM is exceptionally good for deciphering hidden patterns, comprehension, and seeing a solution to a hard problem. If the test is mostly a memory challenge (multiplication tables, formulas), then go to sleep at the usual time and get up early for prep. But if it’s hard problems, then it’s REM you want. Stay up a little later and get the full dose of dream-rich sleep, which helps the brain see hidden patterns.

Parents, let’s support your children well with clear boundaries about screen time. Students, let’s do yourselves a favor and ensure you’re well-rested for that big test!

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