The Importance of Sleep, Yet Again

Here's an interesting research finding about sleep: if you exercise, chances are that you'll sleep better. If you do an average of at least 150 minutes per week (about 20 minutes per day) of "moderate to vigorous" exercise, you will likely experience an increase in sleep quality, and decrease in sleepiness during the day. Walking briskly counts as moderate exercise, so even rushing from one class to another counts. Bonus!

On the other hand, The Gateway has a silly feature about an editor's attempt at getting more stuff done by dividing the week into six 28-hour days. I think it's telling that the story concludes with the line, "I might try it again sometime...but not until I sleep for a day to catch up." That's pretty conclusive evidence that this kind of lifestyle is not sustainable. If you want to be more productive, maybe you should be thinking in terms of better quality of work, not quantity. More than once, I've been handed a term paper by a bleary-eyed student who mumbled, "I was up all night writing this." You know what? I can tell.

I've posted about the importance of sleep before, and then again. I'm going to be lecturing on it in intro psych, so I't on my brain. Even, like, fantasizing about it. Not dreaming about it, however--that would require actual sleep. I don't want to name names, but someone is still waking me up every night.

There was a blissful period of a few weeks when she decided to sleep through the night, but now she's at the age when she needs more than zero naps, but less than one. (Yeah, try to do the math on that one.) If she takes an afternoon nap, she won't go to sleep until 11:00. But if she doesn't have a nap, it's Miss Crankypants for the rest of the day. Oh, and she'll also fall asleep on the floor in the evening, which means she won't be tired at bedtime. Sigh.

Anyway, in sum: Sleep is good.

Why aren't you studying?

(HT: PsychCentral.)

The Fall Term Reading Week

Argh! I'm up to my neck in a major consulting project, and the deadline is stomping toward me like a rancorous rancor. I appreciate having a couple of days--Fall Term class break and Remembrance Day--to devote to this project, but what if we got a whole week off? The Fall Term reading week idea received 55% approval in a plebiscite in March, 2011. But just because students are in favour of something, doesn't mean admin is going to pay any attention to it. (Lower tuition fees, anyone?) So it's a bit amazing that the fall reading week proposal is actively being considered by UofA administration, a subject of some discussion on the Whither the U of A? blog. There are four possibilities under consideration:

1. Classes start a week earlier, keeping the same number of instructional days. For example, classes would have started August 31 instead of September 7 this year.
: This is a bad idea. Classes would start before the Labour Day long weekend, disrupting many vacation plans. And students who rent apartments would have to pay rent for the whole month of August--or just miss the first day of class. (Guess which one students would pick.)

2. Start classes a day earlier, there would be one fewer day between the last day of classes and start of the exam period (so-called "study break"), and instructional days would be decreased by one.
Evaluation: This is better--less disruption of summer. But I think students wouldn't like one fewer day to prep for finals, and I wouldn't like losing one class in Fall Term.

3. Like option #2, classes would start one day earlier, but there would be no reduction in study break days; instead two instructional days would be lost.
Evaluation: I would not like to lose a classe. Either I'd have to talk faster, or cut out some content. But what to cut? It's all important; otherwise it wouldn't be in the course. Also, if I teach the same course in both Fall and Winter terms, due to the different number of instructional hours, I'd have to have two different sets of lectures and two different sets of exams. Confusing much?

4. Start classes on the same day as always, and just cut out three instructional days.
: WTF? Why is this even on the table? Having a break is not a good tradeoff for losing that much in-class time. Bad, bad, bad.
Interestingly, even the Edmonton Public School Board is considering a week-long fall break. This is an intriguing possibility, as I have two kids and don't like to pull them out of school just to go on a vacation. So if the UofA has a week-long break at the same time that my kids are out of school, we could go on a guilt-free family holiday that is not during the most expensive time of year (e.g., Christmas, summer), for once. But if the two fall breaks are at different times, or if the EPSB decides to implement a break and the UofA doesn't (or vice-versa), that would suck.

Which of the four options do you prefer?

Why aren't you studying?

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