Sacrificing a good night’s sleep would have a strong impact on learning abilities.
If you are asked, “who is a teacher?” and “what do teachers need to function?” Imagine what would be your responses. All of us have encountered teachers and teaching at different times in our lives. As a result, we have various opinions about teachers and teaching. For example, a Japanese proverb says, “Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” The author of this proverb emphasized the worth of ‘a great teacher’
A teacher, whether great or ordinary, is worth all other professionals put together because the teacher makes every professional including teachers. The making of one person to be somebody in society has far-reaching immeasurable human, material and intangible effects. This is in line with similar thoughts of an American academic historian, Henry Brook Adams, who declared, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
A teacher can have the aforementioned impact by being someone who helps acquire knowledge, competence, or virtue. This is because, according to Oxford Dictionary, to teach means to impart knowledge to or instruct someone as to how to do something. It is not strange to us that the teachers can share guiding information in classroom education, craftsmanship or vocational training, and other life circumstances such as the arts, religion, community roles, or life habits including hygiene, sleeping, etc. Fundamentally, one who would provide shaping information in teaching must have acquired the information, processed, understood and stored the information as memory and ultimately be able to recall it from the memory store for sharing. Each of these steps are necessary for proper memory function.
The acquisition and recall occur only during wakefulness but research suggests that memory consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the brain connections that form our memories. The general consensus by scientists and researchers is that memory consolidation (the process of preserving key memories and discarding excessive information) takes place during different stages of sleep. Also, by strengthening our memories, sleep helps to link older memories to newer ones, which can greatly aid in reviews and the formation of analytical skills.
Indeed, sleep and memory share a complex relationship. Getting enough rest helps you process new information once you wake up, and sleeping after learning can consolidate this information into memories, allowing you to store them in your brain. A good night’s rest not only promotes good physical health but also enables our brains to function properly, so getting the recommended amount of sleep each night is key to consolidating memories. Recent studies also suggest that insufficient and excessive sleep can affect memory processing and other cognitive processes.
Without adequate sleep and rest, overworked brain components can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information. Sleep deprivation mainly leads to reduced memory skills, along with other things that can disadvantage one’s learning, such as lower levels of concentration, poor mental health and generalized body weakness.
Under the stress of socioeconomic pressures, poor teaching conditions, resulting repeated strikes and school work deadlines, many teachers often pull all-nighters to stay on top of things. Sacrificing a good night’s sleep would have a strong impact on teachers’ learning abilities which is the basis for their overall roles and functions.
I call on teachers to adopt good sleep habits for desired memory storage for teaching content. I call on all of us made by teachers to support enabling environment for teachers’ sleep through the reduction of their stresses by pursuing teachers’ decent working conditions, access to professional development opportunities and a recognized professional status, as this pursuit is considered the first step towards more resilient education systems. This is in line with the theme for World Teachers’ Day 2022 which was held on 6th October, “The transformation of education begins with teachers”.
In our next article, we will show how sleep not only affects the contents shared during teaching but also the format or attitude of the information sharing.
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