Rest Easy: Why Sleep Affects Learning


Is your child burning the midnight oil studying for exams? Is he or she frequently staying up late to complete his or her homework?

If your answer to any of the above questions is yes, it’s time for you to step in.

It is no secret that a good night's sleep makes one feel better. But more importantly, for your child, sleep gives his or her body time to rest and recharge. This is especially crucial when your child is preparing for the upcoming exams. Getting enough rest is also crucial to his or her ability to learn and remember.

Here's why: skimping on sleep does not only harm his or her long-term health but also affects your child’s ability to retain knowledge efficiently.

Understanding The Importance Of A Good Night's Sleep

During sleep, while the body rests, our brain is busy processing information from the day and forming memories. That is why if your child is sleep deprived, his or her ability to learn and retain new information may be impaired. 

Watch the TED-Ed video by Dr Shai Marcu below with your child to better understand more about the relationship between sleep and memory.

Putting Your Child's Exam Worry To Bed

While revising for exams, your child may, understandably, be stressed.

As a parent, you can help your young one understand that progressive revision is key to academic excellence — sacrificing several hours of sleep for non-stop studying will not help him or her remember more points. Hence, it’s not a good idea to let your child burn the midnight oil, as this is likely to work against him or her — affecting his or her memory recall and concentration the following day and hampering his or her learning capacity when revising for exams.


Instead, your child should start revising his or her work early. During revision time, do ensure that he or she takes a short break every 45 minutes to help maintain his or her focus and concentration. 

The night before any big test, make sure your child gets plenty of sleep. This will allow the brain to work at its best and make memory recall much easier. For optimal school performance, most 6 to 8-year-olds need about 11 hours of sleep and 9 to 12-year-olds need closer to 10 hours of rest. Fatigue can cause your child to perform at less than his or her best.

5 Ways To Harness The Power Of Sleep

        •  Maintain a consistent bedtime 
        •  Aim for an early bedtime   most children will sleep better and longer when they go to bed early
        •  Ensure that the child's bedroom is conducive for sleeping  keep it dim, cool and quiet
        •  Keep electronic distractions such as the TV, smartphones or computers out of the bedroom
        •  Avoid caffeine at least a few hours before bedtime

On the day of the test, fuel your child with a healthful breakfast.

Ensure that he or she has a balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates and fats. For instance, a meal of eggs, meat, fruit and toast is not only delicious but nutritious too.

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