Installment #11: What My Toddler Has Taught Me About Adult Learning


Sleep is really, really, really important.

Our brains need rest. They need time to deal with new information; to manage our knowledge; and to assimilate and make sense of our new experiences.

For Mac, his brain AND his body need rest. Even though he is getting older, if he doesn’t get a good nap and a good night’s rest, he cannot make good decisions and he is emotional and irrational. Frankly, when he’s lacking sleep, he’s not a lot of fun to be around, nor, more importantly, is he able to learn new things.


If there is one major lesson I have learned about learning from Mac, it’s that we all need good sleep (even us adult learners). If you’re missing out on sleep, you might want to read more about “sleep debt.”

And then, for goodness sake, go take a nap!


Are You In Sleep Debt?


Thanks to floralbrigades on Flickr for making this photo available for reuse.

The New Service blog posted a good article about Sleep Debt that I wanted to share.  What is sleep debt? According to the article:


Sleep debt is the accumulated sleep that is lost due to poor sleeping habits, sickness, or other causes that affect “peaceful” sleep.  This debt can become difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too large.  Adults roughly need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  Yet according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many adults are not getting enough sleep each night.  Nearly 1 out 4 adults do not sleep 50% of the time or more.

This seems like an especially important concept for adults in higher education because we try to do everything and cram it all into 24 hours. We work, we take care of others, we eat, we exercise, we spend time with our children/friends/sisters/brothers/partners/animals,  we contribute to our communities/place of worship/neighborhoods, we clean house or do yard work or make our meals, and then ??? THEN we add to this already very full plate educational activities. Somewhere in this mix we need to sleep!

Wanna know why? It’s quite simple: we need sleep in order to learn.  Read more HERE and HERE about this! Sleep is critical to helping us process new information and make sense of our prior knowledge.

I can add a tip to the list offered by New Service: remove your cats from your room!

What tips can you add for ensuring you get enough sleep?