Sleep Deprivation and its Effects on Learning

One of the key elements for success is a well-rested body and mind. Without sleep, the body begins to experience significant changes that can be easily recognised by others. 

Studies conducted have shown a trend between active social lives and a decline in grades for those studying whether this be throughout school or later on in further education. As a person gets older and discovers various extracurricular activities, sleep is the first thing that starts to slide in order to make time for a busy social life!

But why exactly is sleep so important not only to the body and mind but also to the level of success a student can achieve? Let’s break down the reason behind its importance and also the effects sleep deprivation can have on learning.

Why Sleep is Important

Any vessel or machine needs steady fuel to run at full capacity, and a person’s body is no different. What exactly are the sources of fuel a person needs in order to live a full and satisfying life? Basic necessities, actually, a well-balanced diet, and sufficient sleep. The majority of healthcare professionals will recommend eight to ten hours of sleep per night for children and adolescents, as well as the elderly, where the average teenage and adults require seven to nine hours of sleep during each sleep cycle.

Sadly, the majority of adults not only get less sleep than recommended but they also allow their lack of energy to influence their diet and social choices.

During sleep, the body enters into a restoration and repair stage, allowing previous ailments and injuries to heal and encourages the production of feel-good hormones. A person’s immune system will also gain strength during sleep, due to the process called immune trafficking. Thus, in instances where sleep deprivation is an issue faced by students, it can lead to missed classes, resulting in poor results and a poor work ethic.

Sleep Deprivation and Memory

The mind depends on sleep as a healing tool just as much as the body. The mind enters a relaxed stage during sleep and unwinds from the day just experienced. Without sleep, the mind cannot retain any information gathered throughout the day, from simple coffee orders to the more complex, such as school-related topics.

Research and clinical studies have proven that not only is sleep crucial to retaining information before a task but also retaining the information and processes immediately following completion. Have you ever completed a task with a set of instructions, and directly after, find yourself unable to complete the task a second time? This is because, in a sleep-deprived state, nothing learned retained itself in your memory. A sleep-deprived mind will struggle to access previously learned information and can skew an interpretation of an event, adding and deleting facts that are right in front of your eyes.

Sleep Deprivation and Social Interactions

School is a magical place, not only for the new skills and information gathered crucial to long-term success, but also because this is the place long friendships are formed. During educational seminars in the workplace, career relationships blossom along with extensive lists of networking contacts.

People want to give an honest and kind first impression, and also retain their relationships through mutual respect and understanding. A sleep-deprived person will find themselves easily agitated and suffer mood swings that can negatively impact the person on the other side of their interactions. A pattern of this effect emerges, allowing people to cut themselves out of your life, which has an impact on self-esteem. Students will start to find reasons to skip class and miss out on the information needed to pass a course successfully.

Sleep Deprivation and Focus

There is a common description of a sleep-deprived person being equivalent to an intoxicated person. The substance of choice is not legal or illegal in any sense of the way, just a lack of sleep. Reaction time in the sleep-deprived is noticeably decreased when compared to that of a well-rested person. The ability to quickly answer any sort of inquiry is delayed and a lack of participation can negatively affect grades.

The ability to concentrate and dismiss potential distractions is non-existent in the sleep deprived, which can create a negative impact on learning. A person’s attention is easily diverted from the information they should be memorising and hours can be lost to a lack of focus.


Sleep is one of the key elements of a successful academic career and a healthy lifestyle. Without sufficient sleep, a person will lose focus and struggle to retain even basic information. Mood swings become common, causing strife within both personal and interpersonal relationships, and a lack of energy leads to unhealthy food choices along with a decrease in exercise or physical activity.

One of the top factors that can influence how well a person sleeps throughout the night is the surface on which they are resting. Inadequate support for the body will lead to restless sleep, the majority of the time spent tossing and turning, looking for a comfortable position. Invest in a good, sturdy mattress that suits your personal preferences along with your physical body and settle down into a night of solid sleep, knowing in the morning, success in all learning endeavors are right around the corner.

Check out our recent blog post on how you can stay well-nourished, hydrated and healthy. 

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