Essay Sample: Healthy Sleep Habits Show to Increase Academic Performance

essay good sleeping habits

Students across the world pile into classrooms each year for a myriad of different reasons. K-12 students are most-commonly found at their desks due to societal expectations legal requirements, while college students are often driven more by personal reasons. School plays a huge role in our lives, and consumes a major portion of our daily routine during the most critical developmental years. Being mindful of several health concerns such as healthy sleep habits and proper nutrition can help ensure our academic successes don’t take away from our ability to enjoy life to its fullest potential. Science has also understood such practices to help improve overall academic performance as well. Below you’ll find a brief overview of some research related to the importance of sleep in academic performance, as well as some nutritional recommendations for supporting such quality sleep cycles.

Healthy Sleeping Habits

One of the most common issues among students of any age is in maintaining a healthy sleeping schedule. Younger students are trying to cram all the recreation they’ve been robbed of during their school day into the late hours of the evening, and college students often are required to study long hours. Either case puts students in a position to be at-risk for developing symptoms of sleep deprivation. A 2011 study found that students that received less than 7 hours of sleep per night, on weekdays or weekends, on a long term basis were noted to have significantly-lower performance scores [1]. This was scored on a B or better and C or lower scale, and found students receiving less than 7 hours of sleep per night on weekdays or weekends were more likely to perform in the C or lower category. Another risk factor identified by this research team was waking before 6:30am, suggesting that later start times might help reconcile this issue.

The foods that we eat also play a major role in the quality of our sleep as well. Learning a bit more about integrating sleep-supportive nutrition into one’s diet may help to support better sleeping habits, and thus academic performance

In addition to simply sleeping too few hours, practices such as sleep during an unfavorable circadian schedule, waking frequently, and presenting with signs of insomnia such as daytime sleeping. While academic performance was the primary investigation of this study, other research suggests that proper sleeping habits are associated with greater overall health and longevity [2]. All-cause mortality risk factors known to be seen in increased amounts in circumstances of poor sleep include inflammation, increased oxidative stress, accelerated mitochondrial decline, and cellular senescence. Sleep is an important facet of our lives where our bodies are able to repair from the day before, and prepare for the next to come. The foods that we eat also play a major role in the quality of our sleep as well. Learning a bit more about integrating sleep-supportive nutrition into one’s diet may help to support better sleeping habits, and thus academic performance.

Healthy Nutritional Habits

Students are often put in positions driven by convenience. They are able to exercise when allowed, and they are able to eat what is provided. School cafeterias among public schools are notorious for offering substandard nutrition options. In the United States, the USDA maintains a set of nutritional and quality guidelines to help dictate the foods provided to students [3]. This set of guidelines is maintained with consideration for a National scope, and has little impact on an individual basis. That’s to say; students that need to eat less carbs aren’t going to get an email from the USDA advising them so. State Educational boards would be lucky to see as much. Science is slowly illuminating the deep connection between diet and health on a much deeper level than just advising people to eat salads if they need to lose weight. Individual-specific diets have seen a surge in popularity in recent years, and many can offer advantages to students (anyone really) over the long term. Specific to student health however, certain food types are known to better support natural energy levels, healthy focus, and in some cases even support natural sleep cycles. Below are a few such foods to consider when investigating dietary means of supporting natural sleep patterns.

High Quality Protein Sources

Protein is one of three so-called macro¬-nutrients that our body depends on to support many vital processes. Proteins from foods like meats, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables are used to synthesize amino acids. These smaller compounds are like the building blocks that our bodies use to create new structures and make new compounds like neurotransmitters. The amount and quality of protein in one’s diet has been shown, in animal studies at least, to greatly affect the balance of neurotransmitters known to promote healthy sleep patterns [4]. The recommended daily allowance for dietary protein intake is between .9 grams per kilogram of body weight and .7 grams per kilogram—depending on several factors such as age and gender [5]. For those on diets, or suffering from food-related issues such as allergies or food intolerances, sometimes meeting this daily goal can become an issue. In such cases as these, quality protein supplements can help fill nutritional gaps. Students looking to ensure they’re getting ample enough protein should always consult with a licensed nutritionist or health professional to help them better understand personal nutrition.

Foods That Support Neurotransmitter Production

In general, protein helps support natural sleep/wake cycles through the maintenance of healthy neurotransmitter levels. Quality protein powders are useful as well, but neither of these two options will provide a complete dietary source of sleep-promoting compounds such as serotonin and melatonin precursors. Meats like Turkey are often renowned for containing high levels of Tryptophan, which is a serotonin precursor. The truth is, turkey is only as effective as any other meats in helping provide tryptophan necessary to neurotransmitter production. In addition to these compounds, other food-derived compounds that are directly related to promoting healthy sleep habits are Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), potassium, pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), L-Ornithine, and magnesium. These types of compounds can be found among foods such as whole grains, maca, asparagus, lettuce, cherries, walnuts, and milk [6]. While eating these foods won’t ensure a better night’s sleep, they contain many natural compounds listed above that current science understands to be very involved in such restorative sleep.

Putting Everything Together

Students are put under enormous pressures to meet tight deadlines and over perform to stand out among their peers. Over-testing, early start times, and work overloads all contribute to added stress on students. The human body relies on healthy and restorative sleep to help repair the body from the damages of stress such as these demands, and suffers greatly when sleep deprived. Science has shown that students not getting adequate amounts of sleep on a regular basis are most-often seen to underperform. Working to establish and maintain a healthy study schedule and sleep schedule can help, but sometimes other things may cause issue. Making strong consideration about dietary habits can help support the body’s natural sleep/wake cycles. Foods like protein and supplements like protein powder can help fill out many nutritional gaps that may contribute to sleep-related issues. Ultimately, students should always consider themselves as requiring unique and personalized nutritional balance. Speaking with a licensed healthcare practitioner is always the best option to more fully understand how to eat well and support your most restorative sleeping pattern.


  1. Ming X, Koransky R, Kang V, Buchman S, Sarris CE, Wagner GC. Sleep insufficiency, sleep health problems and performance in high school students. Clin Med Insights Circ Respir Pulm Med. 2011; 5:71-9.
  2. Mazzotti DR, Guindalini C, Moraes WA, et al. Human longevity is associated with regular sleep patterns, maintenance of slow wave sleep, and favorable lipid profile. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014; 6:134.
  3. United States Department of Agriculture. School Meals.” Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 8 Aug. 2017,
  4. Minet-ringuet J, Le ruyet PM, Tomé D, Even PC. A tryptophan-rich protein diet efficiently restores sleep after food deprivation in the rat. Behav Brain Res. 2004; 152(2):335-40.
  5. National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on the Tenth Edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Recommended Dietary Allowances: 10th Edition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 6, Protein and Amino Acids. Available from:
  6. Zeng Y, Yang J, Du J, et al. Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Current Signal Transduction Therapy. 2014; 9(3):148-155.

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The Organic Newsroom publishes reviews of scientific literature and dietary supplements to help better understand the role of nutrition in a supporting natural healthy balance. Their team is comprised of many ‘Health Nuts’ as they call themselves, and are all focused on better understanding how to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle for themselves and others.

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Should Schools Start Later In The Morning?

Every parent knows their kids would rather school happened later in the morning. Who hasn’t had to yank their kid out of bed in the morning, in order to get them to school on time? The question should be asked though, should school start later in the morning?

It has to be said that school starts very early in the morning, much earlier than most people have to be in work. at some high schools in the US, students can be expected in as early as 7am. There are some good arguments for keeping the start time so early. If parents are dropping children off at school, then they can do so in plenty of time to get to work. If the day starts earlier, it can finish earlier, meaning children can get the most out of the rest of their day.

However, scientists are beginning to argue that making children get up so early in the morning is actually harmful to their health. In 2015, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even recommended that schools were made to start later, as the current start times are stopping them from getting the 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep that they need every night.

When students were examined by the Centers in a study, they found that being made to start early in the morning made them ‘pathologically sleepy’. It was put forward that teenagers’ internal clocks operate differently to other age groups. There’s a reason teenagers are known to sleep until noon; it’s because they can’t get to sleep until late at night. If they’re made to get up earlier and earlier though, they’re missing out on vital sleep.

When schools have trialled later start times, the effects have been startling. It was found that students were doing better in all of their subjects, especially math and science. There was a boost in attendance, and there was much less lateness from students than there was before. It was even noticed that there was a drop in the number of teen car crashes.

There are arguments for keeping the timings the way they are, though. Schools say that the power is out of their hands in order to change the school day. Parents also don’t want the day to change, as they often rely on older siblings to be home early in the day, so they can care for younger children until they get home.

However you look at it though, it’s clear that schools and children would benefit if they started later in the morning. Students would get more out of their studies and they’d even be safer on the road. It schools can work out how to change their schedules, this could be worth putting into practice.

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Who Invented School?

There isn’t a school child alive today who hasn’t, at some point, wished that schools had never been invented. If they hadn’t, they’d be free to play all day right? Who is the person who’s responsible for creating schools in the first place?

There isn’t actually a simple answer to this question. Rather than being invented in the format we know it in today, the concept of ‘school’ has evolved over centuries, changing along the way.

The first known instance of a formal school can be traced back to Ancient Greece. With a culture that placed such a high value on knowledge and wisdom, it’s not surprising that this is the case. Around 385 BC, groups of students would get together to learn from a teacher, in groups called ‘academies’. The name came about due to Plato, who founded a school of Philosophy near an area named Akademia.

School in Ancient Greece wasn’t run anything like a modern school is today. The teachers would concentrate on more free form topics, encouraging students to think about topics such as ‘the meaning of life’. This began to change in 425 AD with the Byzantine Empire. The schooling system was adjusted to fit the needs of military personnel, the people who would be attending. The focus was on more rigid topics, such as Math and History. However, this system was lost with the fall of the Empire in 1453 AD.

Every culture developed differently when it came to education, but here in the west schooling was known for years as only for the rich. Poorer children would never be sent to schools. Instead, they would work to contribute to the family’s upkeep. In the UK, children were famously known for being chimney sweeps as they were small enough to fit up chimneys.

In the US, Horace Mann and Harry P. School were two men who began to gather children together in groups in order to educate them. In the UK, Robert Raikes introduced Sunday Schools, and the law was changed in 1870 so all children had to be educated.

Schools were very different back then, but this was the turning point that lead to the creation of the modern schooling system as we know it today. Children weren’t separated by age, so every child in the school may be taught in the same room. In a larger school, you could be looking at 80-90 children in a class. This has been changed, but we still see some Victorian ideas in schools today.

Schools weren’t so much ‘invented’ as created over the years, becoming what we know today. There’s no one inventor of the school, but plenty of people who have contributed to the idea over time.

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Is Modern Culture Ruining Childhood

Anyone with children, or who is regularly in contact with children, will know that childhood is radically different to the one they remember. The prevalence of technology and especially social media has changed what it means to be a child almost beyond recognition. With such dramatic changes, is it possible that modern culture is ruining what childhood is?

The biggest problem reported by carers of children is that they engage less in imaginative play. Modern technology means that their attention is being demanded by more and more things, so they don’t have the time or inclination to play. If they have more and more video games or ways to access TV, why would they have to make up their own games?

There’s also the issue of what children can access online. Before the advent of the internet, carers could control what information a child had access to. Now, though, a child can find almost anything online. This can be a real danger if they come across material that’s too mature or graphic for them.

The largest problem children face in modern culture is that of ‘helicopter parenting’. The trend of taking control of every aspect of a child’s life comes from a place of love, as parents of course want their children to be safe and happy. However, as children aren’t able to go out and have their own experiences, they’re staying inside and instead experiencing the world through a screen.

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Children may have access to things their parents could never have dreamed of, thanks to the internet. The learning opportunities are almost endless, and they can connect with other children and educational experts from all around the globe.

If parents are concerned with what their children are seeing online, it is possible for them to control what gets to them. Parental controls are easily set up on most internet enabled devices, and encouraging your child to be open and honest with what they’re seeing online can go a long way.

Play is different nowadays, but it doesn’t mean it’s gone. Just like adults did when they were children, children still enjoy playing as their favourite characters in the school yard. There’s still plenty of imagination for them to tap into. The difference is that modern children have a wider pool of experiences to draw from when they play their own games.

So, is modern culture ruining childhood? Not necessarily. It’s true that there are a lot more dangers out there for modern children, but there’s a lot more opportunity, too. If a child is equipped with the right tools for negotiating the dangers of modern life, then they can have a happy, fulfilling childhood.

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Do We Need Art In Our Lives

Do We Need Art In Our Lives

No one will be surprised to hear that the arts are under fire in this day and age. Any child who expresses an interest in pursuing a career in the arts is advised to pursue other talents instead. We view the arts as something of a hobby, something that’s fun but certainly can’t pay the rent. If it’s not a useful skill, no wonder arts funding is being slashed in schools. Do we really need art in our lives?

In schools, time and money is at a premium, now more than ever. With teachers having to fit so many lessons into every day, it’s easy to see why art is dropping more and more by the wayside. Budgets are dropping at an alarming rate too, and what school is going to drop teaching in essential subjects such as math or science when they can drop art instead?

It seems as though the loss of art in daily life is a sad fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s actually a lot of practical uses for art for many people. For example, art therapy has helped people with a range of illnesses, both mental and physical, cope with their symptoms. Art is found almost anywhere you look in your home. Practical items, such as bedspreads, furniture or clothing, are all art forms in themselves and evoke emotions in the people interacting with them.

Art also gives us insight into the world at large. History tells us what happened and when it happened, but it can’t tell us how the population at large felt about it. That’s where art steps in. We know a lot about how people in the past lived and worked, because their art has given us such a deep insight into their daily lives. We wouldn’t have that insight without it.

Most of all though, we need art in our lives as it gives us a form of self expression. Being able to talk about our feelings is essential to staying healthy. You many not think you talk about your feelings, but you may express them in other ways. Some like to cook or bake, some like to work on machinery, and others may like to paint or draw. Whatever you like to do in your spare time, you’re probably creating art every day.

So, do we need art in our lives? Many people would say no, but the art they’re thinking of is the art you see in galleries. Art is actually much more accessible and is truly needed in everyday life. It helps those in need, gives people in the future an idea of what life was like, and is a vital form of self expression.

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