Learning Strategy 17: Sleep and Rest
Version Date: February 27, 2014
In the old days (that is, about forty years ago), manframe computer users would type up their programs onto punch cards (cards with rectangular holes punched in them) and then hand the stack of cards over to the computer operator (who wore a white lab coat). When the operator got a bunch of stacks of cards, he would put them into the hopper and run them all through the computer. The computer would chew them over and print out a few feet of greenbar paper (wide paper complete with sprocket holes and alternating shadings of green to make reading the printed lines more easily). If the user were still hanging around when the job was run at midnight, it was amazing to watch error messages print out at 1100 lines per minute.
So why am I telling you this? Well, it's sort of an analogy. You write the program code for your brain during the day when you study or work problem sets, or read, or think. Then, when you go to sleep each night, the little guy in your brain (in his white lab coat) takes all that information and puts it into the hopper to process it.
In other words, your brain works on your daytime learning while you sleep, sorting it out, processing it, cementing it into long-term memory, and just washing it down to make it clean and presentable.
But--what if you stay up all night, as some students do when they study for a major exam? Well, if you don't go to sleep at night, the little guy in your brain can't put the punch cards in the hopper and run the mainframe. He just keeps collecting more punch cards, and he starts dropping handfuls at a time. He can't hold them all.
In other words, your brain needs sleep in order to consolidate the material you are learning. No sleep, little learning. And consequently, studying by "pulling an all nighter" actually harms your examination performance.
And, as you learned from study cycles, if you back your pickup truck up to the mainframe room door and dump a truckload of punchcards all at once on the little guy in the white lab coat, you won't get good results.
The key is to study, sleep, study, sleep (or at least rest). The
brain is a kind of electrochemical machine that your mind uses to
explore and learn and solve problems. It's like a horse (to change
analogies), and it must be maintained in order to work properly.
Carrying your mind to new places requires a lot of energy, so it needs
both food and rest.
Sleep deprivation not only makes your body tired, but it also makes
your brain tired and difficult to control. When my brain gets sleepy, I
write strange sentences which make no sense.
This sketch is not intended to be adhered to recipe-like; it's just
to give you an idea about how to balance your mental work day. It
probably includes much more rest and relaxation time than many college
students take--and that's the point. Most student brains don't get
enough rest and sleep.
Yes, you do need sleep. Extreme sleep deprivation cause psychosis, brain fry, and severe lack of learning and remembering. Tiredness from too little sleep slows down your learninig speed and lowers your capacity. If you don't want to read every paragraph three times before you can understand it, get enough sleep.
For maximun brain optimization,