Have you ever heard of the lumberjack who was too busy to sharpen his saw? Or have you ever been so busy driving that you didn’t stop to get gas when the tank is low? Or how about trying to push an all-nighter only to find yourself slumped over your books with drool oozing out your mouth the next morning?

These are all examples of not stopping long enough to preserve the healthy state necessary to accomplish the tasks at hand. Sooner or later it will catch up to you. It’s known as burning the candle at both ends or running faster than you have strength. Sure it’s noble and you may get accolades and honors, but those honors and pats on the back need not only come by sleep deprivation and last-minute learning. They can come too when we make wise use of our time & put ourselves in a state that lends best to mental alertness. One of the best ways to secure this state and to succeed more fully in your online college classes is to get adequate sleep.

Now, to many in our day and age, an average of 6 to 7 hours of sleep seems more than sufficient. But while our need for sleep changes over our lifetime, the average adult benefits most from 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep per night. This amount of sleep, if it is positive sleep, has been shown to help heal the body from sickness, increase metabolism, help the body replenish stress reducing hormones & even help us sort out difficult problems we face in waking hours.

Research has shown the existence of what is known as sleep debt. Our internal clock tracks how much sleep we get. If we don’t get the required amount our body needs we accumulate sleep debt. We may not even know that this debt exists. And while we may not even feel tired, research has shown that we perform at a lower capacity when we are functioning while deprived from restful slumber. To be clear, we may not be operating on all cylinders.

Dr. William C. Dement in his phenomenal summation of the last 50 years of sleep research shares that a good night’s sleep is more than desirable, it is restorative, replenishing, and required for optimal health and happiness. And one of the most fascinating possibilities is that we actually learn during sleep!

“Remember that neural growth factors rise during sleep, so REM sleep might be a time when the growth factors in brain activity act together to create the nerve connections needed to put memories in long-term storage.” (The Promise of Sleep, p 315)

Dr. Dement goes on to quote Harvard psychiatrist and neuropsychologist Allan Hobson, “it seems that memories already in the system are being read out and filed in terms of the emotional salience.”

Many of our sleep habits are reminiscent of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. But while there is much more to understand about the world of sleep, some things are certain, good sleep matters and it can help you succeed in your online classes. By making some small changes to our schedules we can both boost our productivity while studying and support learning while we sleep.

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