Saturday, November 12, 2011

Home Schooling - Part 7 of a 12 Part Book Review - Brain Rules - Rule 7



Song:  Sprinkle To Rain

Artist:  Isaac Shepard



BRAIN RULE 7


SLEEP - Sleep Well, Think Well


The negative effects of extreme sleep deprivation are well documented...
and for the purpose of this article...
I shall skip over the first portion of this chapter's coverage of it.

Of primary concern is the quantity and the quality of sleep
acquired on a daily...or rather, for most, a nightly basis.


My experience:

Just know that to achieve optimum sleep...
there are three very important factors...

Dark...Cool...Quiet.

Although I still sleep during the day
(not only as a result of 23 years of working nights...
I actually prefer the calm peace of the nights to live in)...
I achieve absolute darkness, coolness and silence by separating
my sleep quarters into a room that has no windows (or blacked out ones)...
a separate air conditioner (I prefer the temperature to be in the mid to high 60s)...
and I have an insulated room for sound...
besides the steady droning of the air conditioner giving a white noise.

The absence of light is not only crucial...
it is physiologically based.

In our brain...
the Pineal Gland produces...among other hormones...Melatonin.

Melatonin, besides affecting other hormones in the body...
sets our circadian rhythms.    
It promotes sleep.  It is produced in proportion 
 to how much light the brain registers as received in the eyes. 

 In darkness...
Melatonin is produced in much higher amounts.

In light...
far lesser amounts.

Any amount of stimuli received...
 by any of the senses...puts the body on alert.
A body on alert...is a body not fully resting...
and so...
the need for comfort and silence.

 Another preparatory measure for sound sleep is to not eat anything...
at least 3-5 hours before bedtime (this is also one of the secrets to weight loss).
This allows the bulk of digesting to have been completed.  
Rest should mean for the body as a whole...
not just that of the mind.

Of course...daily physical exercise is also a key to deep relaxation.

This alone promotes deep sleep at night.


The author cites some research into learning just prior to bedtime.

An experiment using math problems with a 12 hour interval...
students who had the interval during the daytime (no naps)...
about 20% of them were able to do similar problems afterward 
in a more efficient way.

Using another group...
given the same circumstances save one...
their interval was at night and included an 8 hour block of sleep.

They had found that this group had 60% of them solving 
similar problems in a more efficient manner.

That is a 3 to 1 ratio in favor of the sleep group.

Whether or not it means that learning happens during sleep...
or that the mind has uninterrupted time to consolidate and store
without new information erasing the details of the old...
it is enough to know that it is effective.


Chapter Summary


1)  The brain is in a constant state of tension between cells and chemicals
that try to put you to sleep and cells and chemicals that try to keep you awake.

2)  The neurons of your brain show vigorous rhythmical activity when 
you're asleep - perhaps replaying what you had learned earlier that day.

3)  People vary in how much sleep they need and when they prefer to get it...
but the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.

4)  Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory...
mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.


We always ensure Alex has plenty of solid sleep. 

He also formerly studies until bedtime 
(the day is interspersed with breaks, playtime, and other activities)...
after which he showers and then sees a fun science program
or other concept rich video or TV program...
and then for his final hour or so...
each and every night until he drifts off to sleep...
his mother reads to him at his bedside...
has him read to her...
she questions him about the content...
has him project his thoughts into a similar situation...
and finally as his eyes get droopy...
she reads to him as he drifts off to sleep.

Alex has always found comfort in her voice as he falls asleep.

The bedtime routine is nightly.

The new concepts he learns before bedtime
seems to comfort him, puts his mind at ease.

He loves to learn.

I think this allows him to feel as if he has not wasted a day...
even if he had to review material earlier...
he could at least get some new concepts at the end of the day.

He looks forward to bedtime because it is an established routine...
one that gives him comfort and a new adventure at the same time.



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