Does Better Sleep Improve Exam Performance?

I’m writing this at the end of May when exam season is in full swing for both GCSE and A-Level students. Many of us remember desperately cramming in last minute revision – with coffee or caffeine tablets beside us to stay awake.

Unfortunately, students are most likely to be at the age when their bodies (and brains) need more sleep, not less. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, but for teenagers it’s more like 8-10 hours.

Stress can often disturb the little sleep that students try to get. Their minds are full of worries about their exam performance and all the things they don’t know – or haven't had time to revise.

Girl sleeping on books

What we know – as adults – is that those last few hours burning the midnight oil rarely lead to improved performance. The key facts that we’re reading are easily forgotten in a sleep deprived state, and that’s assuming they’re needed for the exam paper at all!

Studies show that sacrificing sleep doesn’t improve exam performance and in fact, getting a better sleep can improve grades. Some studies have taken this further and shown it isn’t just the previous night’s sleep that’s important, but the week leading up to it.  

The key reason is all to do with the different sleep stages.

When we sleep our brain passes through various ‘cycles’ – from light sleep, to deep sleep to REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM sleep is the key stage and is the stage where we dream and our brains process new information and commit it to memory. The REM sleep that students are deprived of during those all-nighters significantly impair cognitive performance.

Boy with study books

Getting a better sleep is crucial to exam performance and the Sleep Tips we include on the website apply here too.

If a relative or friend is in exam season (or maybe you are yourself) our products (especially our pillow sprays) can be used alongside these Sleep Tips to boost exam performance. Check out our products here.


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