Sleep: make better grades without sounding possessed

High school students and sleep rarely enter the study skills conversation. College students can’t even believe people go to bed before 3am. Consider this story, though. (Preface: I didn’t make this story up. It’s true. I kid you not.)

My friend Phil called me late one night when we were in college.


“What’s up, Phil?”

“How do you know if your roommate has a demon?”

… Uhh…?

I didn’t know what to say. I did want to see it though. So I drove to Phil’s apartment to talk to his potentially-demon-possessed roommate. For the last several days he had been working furiously on his end of the semester project – philosophy or physics, I think. He had worked on them for a long time. As in, 6-days-without-sleeping long time.

Here’s what I found out: six days with no sleep makes you sound demon-possessed. He was like a weird cross between A Beautiful Mind and that weird monk from The DaVinci Code.

So we took him to the psychiatric hospital. They gave him the most incredible medicine:

A nap.

It is amazing what sleep can do. Michael Hyatt, a well-known leader who I respect immensely, made the following comments about napping in his recent post, 5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day:

1. A nap restores alertness

2. A nap prevents burnout

3. A nap heightens sensory perception

4. A nap reduces the risk of heart disease

5. A nap makes you more productive

I’d highly recommend the post for anyone who desires to be more productive, or anyone who enjoys sleeping after scarfing a burrito. Naps are wonderful things. Go for the nap.

Here’s the big idea: sleep is unbelievably important. Many students pay far too little attention to this. You need to rest. If you don’t rest, you will burn-out faster than you can imagine. Sleep governs your energy level. It recharges your batteries. It manages stress levels. It makes you less grumpy, which, incidentally, helps you get both better grades and better dates. No one wants to date Negative Nancy.

The effects of sleep can be expounded indefinitely. They are phenomenal. But one in particular is incredibly important for students:

Sleep defrags your brain.

Defraging your computer is a necessity. If it starts to slow down, you defrag it. I typically defrag my computer at night. It takes a while, so I don’t want to have to use it during that time period. But it’s totally worth it.

Defragging is a reorganizing of all the data your computer has been dealing with. Somethings were deleted. Others were installed. After all the computing, and facebooking, and downloading, and uploading, and tweeting, and gaming, your computer needs a break to rest and regroup.

So does your brain.

You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever studied hard for a long period of time, only to be still struggling with the vocab list late that night. The next morning, however, you have miraculously remembered more than you knew the night before! That’s the defragging I’m talking about.

Your brain retains more than you think it does if you are studying well. Have a great study session, then go to bed. Groggy people rarely ace exams.