In a study by Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Sadeh, a sample population of fourth through sixth grade children experimentally tested whether an hour of sleep difference, manipulated through restriction and extension, would have any effect on cognitive function as assessed by Neurophyschological Evaluation System (NES). The findings of this study indicate significant performance differences between those children whose sleep was extended and restricted.
The authors suggest that the academic difference demonstrated was similar to two years of development, that the sleep manipulation affected the difference between a fourth grade student and a sixth grader. Teachers and parents presented with these findings can identify the strong implication confirming the conventional wisdom of getting a good night’s sleep before a big test: a well-rested fifth grader might test as well as a sixth grader, while a fifth grade student operating on inadequate sleep could show the loss of a year of development and test like a fourth grader.
Academic Success Matters!
Other studies have found striking correlation between sleep and academic performance in high school students. Sample populations of 7,000 and 3,000 high school students, in Minnesota and Rhode Island respectively, were separately surveyed relating to their sleep habits and grades. Although the studies were carried out separately, the findings were remarkably consistent: ‘A’ average students obtain about fifteen minutes more sleep per night than ‘B’ average students, and the correlation continues down the grading continuum. These findings suggest that even minor differences can be related to large differences in intellect and academic performance.
The moderating effect of parental impact must be mentioned along with these findings. It is logical to suggest that those high-performing children have greater parental support both academically and in making positive lifestyle choices such as striving to obtain adequate amounts of sleep and activities like Judo that exercise both body and brain. Sensei Ryan Cunningham’s Judo Seminar did that for us and the kids all slept well that night, and were ready to learn the next day.