The Importance of Sleep

You’ve probably heard it before: “you should get more sleep.” In college, it’s just that easy to become sleep deprived. With parties, study sessions, parties, study sessions, parties, and study sessions, you just don’t have time to sleep.

We’ve all been there. Staying up too late, engaged in the colorful hustle and bustle that is the college nightlife, just to finally throw yourself down into a bed, a couch, or even the cold, dark floor . . .
Three, maybe four, hours later, your alarm clock screams, “It’s time for class!” Then, contemplation: to go to class or to pull the covers over your tired eyes and catch a few more hours of sleep.

You may not think one night of little to no sleep is damaging, but sleep deprived nights here and there can really add up. In fact, they add up to what scientists are now calling a “sleep debt.” Sleep debt is “[The difference] between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get.” Sleep debt is something most college students cannot avoid, and that is okay. When it comes to sleep, it is important not to forget the 80/20 principle. But for now, lets see just why we need sleep.

Why Do I Need Sleep?

In short, sleep is absolutely, 100% essential to life. We would literally die from lack of sleep before we would die from starvation. We would also stunt our growth, as that is when most of your body’s growing occurs. Sleep provides us with natural Human Growth Hormone, or HGH. HGH is an essential hormone for children’s growth and continues to be essential in your adult life.

What are the benefits of a good nights sleep?

Its no secret that sleep can dramatically improve your memory. So, during finals week, you are probably gonna want to get your sleep in. Along with the memory, sleep also improves your: creativityathletic performanceimmune system functioning, and successful aging. I have had numerous times when I stayed up late a few nights in a row, and had flu-like symptoms. As soon as I started sleeping more, I started feeling better.

What happens if I don’t get enough sleep?

To start off, your grades are going to drop. “A 2001 study reported in the College Student Journal concluded short sleepers (6 hours or fewer in 24 hours) had an average GPA of 2.74 compared to longer sleepers (9 or more hours in 24 hours) with an average GPA of 3.24.” Next, your body’s ability to regenerate certain nerve cells. After that, you will become an emotional disaster, particularly with your closest friends. Other potential pitfalls of sleep deprivation include: inflammation, a shrinking brain, heart and kidney issues,  blood pressure and cardiovascular issues, and obesity.

How can I get more sleep?  

In college, it’s going to be tough to find time to sleep. However, there are ways to make your sleep schedule more manageable. Firstly, you want to make sure you actually have a sleep schedule. If your sleep plan is simply just to fall asleep when you seriously can’t consume anymore coffee or 5 hour energies, you’re not doing it right. Getting things done earlier in the day is going to help tremendously. Finish your studying before you run off to your clubs, sports, etc.

It has a lot to do with how you manage your time, so don’t miss precious opportunities in your daily schedule to study. I find that setting a time when I drop everything and just go to bed really helps. That doesn’t mean that I stay up until that time every single night, but if im out at a party, or doing some serious studying, I will leave what im doing and hit the sacks.

Grabbing a half hour nap here and there can also save your body from disaster. No, naps are no longer for kindergarteners; college kids need naps too. If you only got six hours of sleep on saturday night, find a couple times on sunday and even monday to decrease your sleep debt and grab a nap.

At the end of the day, it’s all about managing your time properly and not slacking off. Be the guy or girl that instead of wasting time after dinner, does his/her homework and studies so that at 2 a.m when you come back, you don’t have an entire paper to write due in a matter of hours! Any time you’re not in class can be utilized for your benefit, it’s just about finding out what works for you.

 

 

About The Author

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Max is a passionate pursuer of integrative health. He has been drafted by a professional baseball team, worked in publishing scientific laboratories and spoken to groups of students on health and well-being. He is currently a biology major and philosophy minor at Denison University. Max spends his time reading, weightlifting, traveling and learning. Email Max at mungar810@gmail.com.

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