How to Boost Your Test Scores the Lazy Way
By Stephanie Lynn, age 23, Massachusetts
How to boost your test scores the lazy way ... without cheating, I mean. :D
Okay, so you have a major exam tomorrow ... or maybe your SAT's ... and you need to do really well. Which is better?
A) Pull an all-nighter, or at least stay up 'til 3 AM, cramming all the data your mind can hold. Then in the morning go take that exam.
- or -
B) Relax and study the best you can 'til your usual bedtime or just beyond, then go to bed, waking up at your usual time. Do a quick review, have breakfast, then it's off to school.
Despite the fact that you'll study less and sleep a whole lot more, surprisingly the answer is B. There are two clear reasons for this.
1. Science is learning that during deep sleep lasting 7 1/2 or more hours the brain sorts the events and information learned during the previous day. Some is discarded. Much of what is important is filed and stored into long-term memory. Sleep deprivation messes up this important part of the learning process. You find yourself forgetting stuff you know you studied. Btw, a good breakfast helps you maintain the energy you need.
2. Sleep deprivation leads to moodiness, impaired judgment, and lower performance the following day. When we cheat sleep, our brain get its revenge.
We think staying awake allows us to get more done. But studies demonstrate exactly the reverse. Sleep deprived we remember 40% less the next day. Each night we shortchange ourselves results in an additional impairment. Sleep deprivation results in poor judgment (not helpful for driving a car or answering multiple choice), increased mood swings, and weight gain, and can lead to obesity and even Type 2 diabetes. In fact, the pattern of brain activity (as measured with a CAT scan) in severely sleep deprived individuals is similar to mental illness.
So there you have it. It can't help you remember stuff you never studied in the first place, but for improved memory, which translates into better exam performance, GET YOUR SLEEP!!!