Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina Brain Rule # 7b – Sleep Well, Think Well

Dr. John Medina continues his thoughts on Sleep in the remainder of this chapter. See Brain Rules 7a for the previous part of the chapter..

Sadly, Medina cannot answer this question definitively; How much sleep do we need? There are so many variables including: age, gender, pregnancy, puberty, etc. He proposes that a better question would be: How much sleep don’t we need? Or, at what point would the amount of sleep we get disrupt what we do during our waking hours? P. 158-169

Perhaps we should follow the example of our former president, LBJ, who apparently locked his door, changed into his pajamas during the day to take a 30 minute nap. Or maybe we should have a “siesta” during our work day as other cultures practice? Some researchers found that a 26 or 30 minute nap could increase productivity during the day and another study found that a 45 minutes nap would have the same benefit. P. 158-160

Some studies verify that Sleep Loss = Brain Drain. In one study a successful female student getting under seven hours of sleep during the week and only 40 minutes more on the weekend scored lower than standardized tests. In another study soldiers responsible for complex equipment lost 30 percent proficiency after just one lost night of sleep. After two nights of lost sleep, the lose of performance stretched to 60 percent. In yet other studies considerable loss of function was documented after less than six hours of sleep each night for five days study participants suffered loss of cognitive abilities equal to a continual 48 hour sleep deprivation. P. 162-165

Given that the USA loses $100 billion each year in productivity due to sleep deprivations,  Dr. John Medina makes the following recommendations:

  1. Match chronotypes  – since there are measurement tools to determine this, schedules can be determined by what type the individual is.
  2. Promote naps – provide time and place for naps in the work or school day.
  3. Try Sleeping on it –don’t make decisions or do important work without proper sleep. P. 165-167

Dr. John Medina summarizes Brain Rule 7 – Sleep Well, Think Well

  • “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.
  • The neurons of your brain show vigorous rhythmical activity when you’re asleep –– perhaps replaying what you learned that day.
  • Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even mo