Good night's sleep Moon and cloudsMake the most of continuing education by sleeping to improve retention.

As a massage therapist, you want to get the best return for your continuing education investment. Why spend the money, time and effort required on a home study continuing education class if you don’t learn something that will help you become a better therapist? Your ability to retain information translates directly to what you think you learn. One of the best ways you can improve retention is to get enough quality sleep.

How Does Sleep Affect Learning?

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School notes that research shows sleep improves learning by keeping the mind alert to receive information and by helping to consolidate memory for future use. The impact of sleep on learning is studied in two ways. One is to see the effect of sleep deprivation on learning, and the other is to explore memory development through different sleep states.

Too Busy to Sleep

Between familial obligations, client appointments and everything else, sleep sometimes gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list, and can even be seen as a luxury. Despite understanding that clients need to get enough sleep (supported by the American Massage Therapy Association), why is it sometimes difficult to follow the same advice?

Make Sleeping Easier

Fitting more sleep into your routine doesn’t have to be a chore. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School suggests a few easy tips to get you started:

  • Be consistent. Having an irregular sleep schedule causes difficulties falling asleep. By going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day, you teach your body when it is time to sleep and wake.
  • Do some things early. Some activities and products can prevent falling asleep, so scheduling these earlier in the day can prevent sleeplessness. Try exercising and napping earlier in the day and limiting consumption of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol near bedtime.
  • Establish a bedtime routine. A way to signal to your body that it is time to sleep is by doing the same things before bed every night. Common routines involve lowering the lights, showering, reading fiction and relaxation breathing. Your bedtime routine should be soothing and help you relax.
  • Set the scene for sleep. Keep your bedroom dark and cool to make it an environment that is perfect for sleeping. Blackout curtains, a white noise machine or earplugs can help keep the bedroom conditions ideal for sleep.

Getting enough sleep is important for many reasons, but especially important for learning. Make the most of your education by discovering what gets you to sleep quicker. You’ll find including consistent sleep in your schedule will be well worth the effort.