Apart from how to answer tricky SAT math questions fast?
I have learned once and for all that sleep loss is catastrophic.
I had always been vaguely aware that I "don't function well" on too-little sleep, but it wasn't until I started taking -- and more importantly scoring -- SAT math sections that I realized exactly how not well.
From Permission to Sleep In by Christopher Shea | July 7, 2011, 12:02 PM ET:
Researchers [at Stanford University] measured shooting percentages, sprint and reaction times, and subjective mood for 11 members of the men’s basketball team, for two-to-four weeks during the 2005 and 2008 seasons, as the players followed their ordinary sleep schedules. (Average sleep, according to a motion-detection bracelet: 6.7 hours.)These are young, healthy varsity athletes.
Then for five to seven weeks the players boosted their sleep time to 10 hours. They were encouraged to take daytime naps when they couldn’t meet that goal.
With the additional pillow time, players dropped their average time on a routine sprinting drill (from the baseline to half court and back, then to the opposite baseline and back) to 15.5 seconds, from 16.2 seconds. Performance on free throws improved to 88%, from 79%. Three-point shots made jumped to 77% from 68%.
Basic reactions, gauged by having players push a button after spotting a stimulus on a screen, improved by 12%, and players were happier.
Source: “The Effects of Sleep Extension on the Athletic Performance of Collegiate Basketball Players,” Cheri D. Mah, Kenneth E. Mah, Eric J. Kezirian and William C. Dement, Sleep (July)
When I take an SAT math section on a good night's sleep (or maybe a good week of good nights' sleep), I miss 0 to 1 questions. Two questions at most.
The other day I took a PSAT math section in a hot room after several nights of going to bed late and getting up early, and I missed 5 questions out of 18, all of them problems I normally get right.
A five-out-of-fifteen miss rate at this stage of the game is, for me, a collapse. Projecting the same percent correct across the 3 math sections of an SAT I, that's a drop from a score in the 700 to 800 range to a score at the bottom of the 600s.
One hundred points. At least.
I'm asking myself what this translates to in terms of lost writing productivity over the years.