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May 2003 Issue

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Why a good night's sleep is required to learn principles and solve problems

By Gary K. Probst, Email:probstgk@pg.cc.md.us

Judy Foreman, a writer and lecturer on sleep and memory, explains how important a good nights sleep is to learning and memory. There are two basic categories of memory. Declarative memory involves learning facts or a sequence of facts. Procedural memory involves learning the principles required to solve problems. A lack of sleep does not become a barrier to learning or recalling factual information that use a person's declarative memory. A lack of sleep becomes a barrier to learning or recalling principles or problem solving. A complete explanation can be found at her website under sleep problems. http://www.myhealthsense.com/

Students need to become aware of requirement of a good night's sleep as a prerequisite for learning. Students who are having trouble learning principles or solving problems should be asked to keep a sleep diary. If a student has trouble sleeping or snores while sleeping, he or she needs to be checked by a medical doctor for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious problem that can be treated.

For more information on sleep disorders the website of the National Sleep Foundation is an excellent source. http://www.sleepfoundation.org. At this website an online test is given to determine if a student has a sleep problem. An excellent sleep diary form can be printed to keep a record of ones sleep during a week. The sleep diary keeps a daily record of twelve items of information that are related to sleep. An excellent caffeine calculator is also given to determine if too much caffeine is the cause of a poor night's sleep.

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