This is a guest post from Steve who writes about how to be an outstanding pre med student at PreMedJourney.com
Could the quality of your sleep keep you from getting into medical school? The latest research suggests that how well you're sleeping could be just as important as how much sleep you get when considering academic success.
Unfortunately the demanding schedule of pre-med classes and activities often means pre-meds are worse off than other college students when it comes to sleep. We get less and lower quality sleep often due to the added stress of difficult classes and balancing activities.
While increasing the amount of sleep is always a good idea, perhaps we would be better served to focus on improving the sleep we do get. Physicians use the best available evidence to suggest treatment options to patients, why shouldn't pre med students look at the best evidence when considering sleep habits and academic performance?
Let's look at what the most recent research says.
This study performed by the American Sleep Assocation states, "Compared to those with the lowest academic performance, students with the highest performance had significantly earlier bedtimes (p = 0.05) and wake times (p = 0.008). Napping tended to be more common among high performers (p = 0.07)." They concluded, "Timing of sleep and wakefulness correlated more closely with academic performance than total sleep time and other relevant factors."
This study from Sleep Medicine Reviews concludes, "...sleep quality and quantity are closely related to student learning capacity and academic performance." What does poor quality sleep look like? Check out this study published in Behavioral Medicine which states, "...variable sleep schedules, going to bed thirsty, environmental noise, and worrying while falling asleep contribute to poor sleep quality." Based on this evidence, here are 6 simple ways to improve your sleep habits.
- Eliminate noise. Sometimes this may require drastic measures such as earplugs. I know from experience.
- Get To Sleep Earlier, Wake Up Earlier. This factor was strongly correlated with improved academic performance. Try to get to bed by 11PM and get up between 6 and 7AM for a total of 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Stick To A Consistent Schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time each night during the week and try to not sleep in ridiculously late on weekends.
- Take Naps. Find the ideal amount of nap time that doesn't make you feel too groggy.
- Drink A Glass Of Water Before Bed. Why? I don't know, but going to bed thirsty seems to contribute to poor sleep.
- Reduce Stress. Check out this post by Cal Newport at Study Hacks that demonstrates how low stress medical admissions is possible.
Here's a summer goal for you: work on improving both the quantity and quality of your sleep. Higher grades will be in your future, not to mention a more enjoyable life.