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The Superpower of Sleep: Tips for Smart Successful Students

Updated: Apr 19

The Unsung Superpower of Students: Turning Sleep into Success!

If you're a student, this blog is your wake-up call (yes, pun intended) to the vital importance why sleep is a SUPERPOWER and how pulling an all-nighter is NOT a badge of honour. Studies show the direct correlation between a lack of sleep and lower exam grades.

Male asleep in bed with green sheets and pillow

Do you know the 3 little words my husband hates to hear…?

When I wake up in the morning, I often roll over and say to my husband three little words. Not just any words. Important words that could make or break the day. Setting the tone for a successful day ahead. Well, probably just for me tbh. This is what I say: “I was thinking...”

I do my best thinking at night. It’s not good for my health or even my relationship if I get a bit snappy and irritable throughout the day, but boy, do I wake up with some good ideas!

I bound out of bed, rush to my laptop and note down all my thoughts rapidly before I forget them. They may be parked for another day (the day that has 25 hours in it!), but at least I’ve scheduled them in the “to do list” part of my brain, and freed up the buzzing creative part (something about hippocampus and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, if you want to be scientific, which I’m most definitely not!). I googled that, don’t come at me!

Anyway, I digress…

The point of this post is to highlight the most important tip for students - SLEEP.

Sleep Smart Tips – The Ultimate Student Superpower

Student fast asleep in bed

In his Ted talk, Matt Walker quotes:

"Sleep is a superpower. And it truly is one of the greatest life hacks that you could ever wish for."

Matt goes on to say: “Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity. It is your life-support system, and the decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health, our wellness, even the safety and the education of our children.

If you're a student, this blog is your awakening to the vital importance of sleep. In your fast-paced world of assignment deadlines and caffeine-fuelled all-nighters, getting enough sleep is probably not a priority. And as a 'young person', you can probably handle it - or so you think!

But let me tell you ... your superpower that can make or break your success as a student is SLEEP.

The Zzz's and A's Connection

You might think that staying up late to cram for exams is the way to ace your courses, but the truth is that sleep plays a pivotal role in learning and memory consolidation.

According to a two-year study of the sleep habits of more than 600 college freshmen that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

The less a student sleeps every night, the lower their grade-point average will be

TedX talks like Matthew Walker's "Sleep is Your Superpower" emphasise the importance of sleep for information retention and creative problem solving. You can even find these nuggets of wisdom in your sleep-deprived state!

The Night Owl Trap

Many students adopt a "night owl" lifestyle, believing that they are actually more productive. But research shows the opposite.

Podcasts and articles from sleep experts, such as the National Sleep Foundation, highlight the long-term health consequences of irregular sleep patterns.

These include symptoms such as mood disorders, weight gain and a weakened immune system. So if you're feeling down or catching colds regularly, ask yourself if you're getting enough rest and sleep.

The Myth of Pulling an All-Nighter

Pulling an all-nighter - going without sleep for an entire night - is often boastfully embraced by students facing important deadlines for an assignment, project or exam. It may seem to help by giving you more dedicated time to work or study for an exam, but staying up all night is detrimental to effective thinking, mood and physical health.

In sleep science, this type of prolonged sleep deprivation is known as total sleep deprivation, and the effects on performance the next day mean that pulling an all-nighter rarely pays off.

So if skipping a night's sleep affects your performance in an exam the next day, was it really worth it? It's far better to stop, rest and get some sleep to allow your brain to recharge and perform better.

Recharge your brain

Think of your brain as a smartphone. Just as you plug in your phone at night to charge it, sleep is the charge for your brain and body.

Listening to a podcast by neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, whose Huberman Lab podcasts are consistently ranked the no. 1 health podcast in the world (according to his website) and they are an eye-opener when it comes to brain health and science-based tools for everyday life, he quotes;

"Sleep is where we consolidate new memories, make connections between different pieces of information, and it's where we solve problems".

So a good night's sleep can actually help you consolidate your thoughts and connect the dots.


Therefore my husband should be thanking me for waking up with bright ideas, shouldn't he?! 😀


Top Tips To Get a Good Night's Sleep

Here are the main takeaways from the UNC Learning Center on the Importance of Sleep for Studying:

  1. Be consistent with sleep – try to go to bed and get up around the same times every day.

  2. Keep your room dark – training your brain to shut down (unlike mine!) …

  3. Don’t exercise vigorously right before bed – instead, try stretching, yoga, pilates, shut down screens and read a book.

  4. Sit at a desk when studying – not in your bed. Your bed is your holy resting grail – don’t confuse the brain by using it as a study place too.

  5. Sleep as much as you need. You may think that pulling an all-nighter doesn’t affect you, but studies show that students who sleep well and as much as they can, do better in exams. Fact.

  6. Avoid coffee, alcohol and smoking before bed. It may make you feel sleepy at first but your body won’t completely shut down into sleep mode, and your quality of sleep will be affected.

  7. Don’t nap after 3pm! It will affect your ability to get into a deep sleep later. If you do feel the need to have a nap, set a timer to wake up no more than 45-60 mins later.

As you make the challenging journey from high school to university, don't overlook the power of sleep. By incorporating these expert insights from TedX talks, sleep podcasts and authoritative articles, you'll not only stay ahead in your studies, but also ensure a healthier, happier and more successful university experience.


For Parents: check out this podcast from a great resource: From The Sidelines to learn how you can help your child, and also recognise the signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation.

FromTheSideLines.UK overview of the need for rest and sleep

If you need more help or guidance on how to navigate the transition from high school to university, check out our website. There you will find useful blogs, resources, and tips on how to help your children survive and thrive on campus.

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