Want to know how sleep helps study? We spoke to Cheryl Fingleson, The Sleep Coach, on how sleep can help study and make your mind work more efficiently and retain information better.

How Sleep Helps Study and Memory Retention

“Sleep critical in the functioning of all body systems,” says Cheryl. “Research has proven a direct correlation between our ability to learn and process memories, and our sleeping habits. Studies show that too little sleep can contribute to the poor ability to learn or retain information. For all of us, memory and learning are consolidated during sleep. This is true for adolescents writing high school exams as well as adults undertaking ongoing education. Memory and learning are processed and integrated during REM sleep – the phase in the sleep cycle that happens after deep sleep.

“Sleep strengthens learning and memories. It also allows us to prioritise memories, by breaking them up and organising them according to their emotional importance. Essentially the more you learn, the more you need to sleep, which is why a good sleep is critical in achieving success regardless of your phase of life or learning.”

How Sleep Helps Study-Related Stress

“Stressful times are when sleep should be our highest priority,” says Cheryl.  “It can be very challenging to unwind during stressful times, given our body’s inbuilt mechanisms to produce adrenaline, cortisol and other “energy” chemicals. During challenging times, many of us are tempted to forgo sleep in order to achieve other competing priorities. Unfortunately, this is often counterproductive. With fewer hours to reach the REM phase, the brain doesn’t get enough time to lay down what we’ve learned during the previous hours. Quality restful sleep each night is essential to promote a stress-press lifestyle.”

Cheryl’s Top Tips To Better Sleep And Study

Prioritise relaxation

“In the evening hours, decrease stimulation. Dim the lights and slow things down. Do something relaxing, such as reading, practicing yoga, taking a bath or initiating happy conversations.”

Quit caffeine by noon

“Caffeine can stay in your body for hours after consuming it. Caffeine’s effects vary from person to person, but in general, try completely eliminating it from midday onwards, or better yet, cut it out altogether.”

Have a sleepy meal at dinnertime

“Eat foods containing nutrients that promote sleep, including tryptophan, melatonin and magnesium. At dinner, eat a combination of high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates. The internet provides so many delicious options to try!”

Have a firm bed time

“Aim to go to bed around the same time every night. I recommend most adults aim for a 10pm to 6am routine.”

Practice left-nostril breathing

“Block off your right nostril with your right thumb and take long slow deep breaths through your left nostril only. Left-nostril breathing has a soothing and relaxing effect on the body mind. In Kundalini Yoga, it’s suggested that you take 26 long, slow deep breaths in this manner to produce a relaxing effect on the mind and body.”

Shift your perspective

“Examine any fear-based beliefs about sleep. Fearful thoughts create tension, hindering deep sleep. I recommend the affirmation, ‘I choose to relax and let go now.’ Repeat in as you practice your breathing techniques.”

Play with lighting and sound

“Aligning our internal rhythms with those of nature sets us up for more restful sleep. Make a point to get exposure to sunlight during the day and in the evening, sleep in a very dark room.”

Take a relaxation bath

“Water, salts and essential oils can be a balm for any stressed soul.”

Try mediation, massage or another relaxation technique

“You can also try a progressive muscle relaxation or a guided meditation (available for free on the internet.) Ask a partner for a massage and practise gratitude.”

Take relaxation breaks during the day

“Try taking at least one short relaxation break per day so that you’re not in a state of overwhelm by evening time.”

If you would like to know more about studying with h&h, please feel free to contact us at any time.