As I write this I am extremely tired. My body is fatigued and shaking slightly. I went to bed late last night and got up early this morning. All in all, I got 6 and a half hours sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a young adult (18-25 years) should have 7-9 hours of sleep each night. So I’m almost there, but I could benefit from going to bed, at least, an hour earlier.
I don’t know about anyone else, but in some ways, I take sleep for granted. With the heavy workload that comes with third year, I tend to work with the mindset that I need to get as much done as possible regardless of how much sleep I get (or don’t get!).
This needs to change. Here are a few reasons why I think us students need to be kind to ourselves and sleep more:
Falling asleep in the middle of the day isn’t healthy
I’m 21, nearly 22. I’m supposed to be a young, fit, bright eyed student with the world at my feet. Instead, I’m nodding off at 3 o’clock on the train home, surrounded by older adults who are probably working every hour under the sun and still finding the energy to stay awake.
Once tiredness hits, the chances of getting home and working on assignments are slim. A one-off is fine, but if this happens on a weekly basis… we’re in trouble.
A good night’s sleep leads to a better memory
So, you had a bad night’s sleep, but that’s okay because now you’re in the swing of things and you’re getting stuff done – HOLD ON.
Your bad night’s sleep will haunt you during the day and impede on your ability to retain information properly.
In Daniel Levitin’s book The Organized Mind, he states that ‘if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, the events of the day are not properly encoded in memory.’ (Source: Flow Magazine)
So if you want to actually remember what your lecturers tell you, and what information you need to remember for your exams and assignments, get some sleep! Just see it as a fundamental part of your studies, like reading books and doing research. Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important if not more so.
Our bodies need to relax
We put our bodies through a lot, the least we can do is give it a rest. The reason I am so tired right now is because I’ve forced myself to read two books in two days. They weren’t even particularly long books and they were fun to read, but physically my body couldn’t cope with it. Even when my eyes wanted to rest, I told them ‘NO!’ and kept reading.
When this happens, it can be hard for us to fall asleep even though we’re so tired. It’s almost as if the tiredness is so strong it keeps you awake.
When I get tired my eyelids twitch uncontrollably. It is distracting, and they are twitching right now.
As students, we use our minds a lot; we do a lot of thinking. Our bodies don’t know we’re trying to get a degree. Our bodies just want to function well and keep us alive and healthy. Take a few nights off and go to bed early – your body will thank you and you can do your studying then!
Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I’m done for the day’ and just sleep. We’re living in an era when notifications come at us non-stop. Turn off your phone, switch out the light, ignore the world and just sleep.
It is time for me to leave you now and follow my own advice!
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