Do your self a favour: Get some shut eye

It’s only the first week of February, so chances are you haven’t had to pull any all-nighters yet this semester, but give it another week or so and I’m sure your sleep schedule will be even more out of whack than it already is. With midterms approaching and essay season not far behind, sleep is about to get moved to the back burner and you know it.

One of the more common negatives associated with the university lifestyle is an irregular sleep pattern, which is clearly unavoidable. How else can anyone expect us to go to class (sometimes), study (when we have to), get involved in extracurriculars and spend sober (and less sober) time with our friends and families? Something’s got to go, and I for one wouldn’t expect any of you to give up drinking or class for the sake of a little shuteye. Sleep is for the weak, right?

Having been a part of the undergraduate scene for a few too many years now I understand how undervalued sleep is in the daily life of a student. I for one have traded “a good night’s sleep” for a good night out more than a few times, and have sacrificed sleep altogether for a better grade on a paper.

We live flexible, often chaotic lives that make four-hour afternoon siestas and sleeping in until 3 p.m. completely reasonable. Perhaps this is part of the reason why sleep isn’t always our number one priority, it certainly isn’t mine. Being able to catch up later makes all-nighters seem less terrible.

On top of the flexible lifestyle, the classes, the studying and the partying, living with roommates means that your sleep patterns might be affected by those around you. With all of these factors preventing a regular sleep pattern, you may feel as though you have trained your body to function on limited amounts of sleep.

For a long time I convinced myself that I could train my body to need less sleep. I regularly only got four or five hours of sleep a night last semester and thought I was doing fine.

In the long run however, I was doing significant amounts of harm to my body and limiting my ability to think quickly and perform tasks efficiently.

Yes, we are relatively young and healthy, but not getting enough sleep can cause serious problems in the short and long term. Research shows you are more likely to do well on that midterm by getting a solid night’s sleep than you are if you don’t sleep for 24 hours before hand.

This is because the brain’s ability to recall information is improved after a good night’s sleep.
You will actually remember something better after a night’s of sleep than you would after a night of studying.

Even if you haven’t been pulling all-nighters, it is possible that you are experiencing effects similar to those of someone who just missed an entire night of sleep.

Chronic partial sleep deprivation (CPSD) qualifies as receiving less than an adequate amount of sleep for an extended period of time.

This could mean getting less sleep than your body needs every night for a week straight, or not getting enough sleep on and off for a few months.

The average healthy adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. If you are consistently not getting this, you could be suffering from chronic partial sleep deprivation.

CPSD can affect you in many ways. Inadequate rest hinders our ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system, react quickly and moderate our emotions.

Translation: not getting enough sleep can turn you into a less than intelligent, sick, slow grump. I doubt this is a combination you’ve been actively striving for, but getting a little extra shuteye might just make you a nicer, smarter human being.

Think these things seem relatively harmless? A lack of sleep can actually be fatal. A number of studies done on lab rats performed over the last 30 years have shown that not being able to rest for even as little as five days can lead to death.

Not getting enough sleep can also cause premature aging. Aging is not just something for older folks to worry about about. Not sleeping now is going to make you feel and look older long before your time.

Sleep allows the body to produce the human growth hormone that helps build muscle mass, thicken skin, strengthen bones and stay youthful. So sacrificing two hours of sleep for the sake of hitting the gym might actually be counter productive.

It all boils down to the fact that sleep is a necessary part of being alive. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have evolved in a way that makes us completely vulnerable for one third of our day.