I think I speak for all of us when I say I love sleep. But as a college student, I often find getting that rest can be a challenge. As the semester begins to roll into full swing, you can bet many students are already feeling the pressures of classwork and time management. So what is the result? All-nighters.
The habit of spending the night doing your work rather than resting has been sweeping across college campuses for as long as we can remember. It is not uncommon to see our friends in the library or residential lounges attempting to cram for an exam or catch up on assignments at all hours of the night. And although it may seem like a good idea at the time, sleep deprivation can essentially have a more negative effect on your body and your studies than we all seem to acknowledge.
Sleep is known to play a critical role in your memory and your ability to think and learn. So why do we think it is academically beneficial to lose sleep in an effort to finish our schoolwork?
Lack of sleep impairs your alertness, concentration and abilities to reason and problem solve. This makes it difficult to absorb information throughout our class time efficiently. Sleep cycles throughout the night also help with your memory. If you don’t get those crucial hours of rest, your brain loses its ability to remember and process what you learned throughout the day. So, in the long run, perhaps it is possible that getting a proper night’s sleep throughout the semester will allow you to remember more of what you learned so that cramming can be avoided.
Understanding the impact lack of sleep can have on our bodies as well as our academic performance is crucial to getting around it. There are many solutions to ensuring that your body is well rested. For example, you can rely on the quick fix of a nap. Napping can be beneficial for a boost of energy throughout the day, but only when done so in a time frame that is aware of the sleeping cycle. For example, taking a 10- to 20-minute nap is ideal for a power boost in energy and alertness, according to some experts, simply because it’s timed before the early stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM). However, taking a 30-minute nap can do just the opposite, causing something researchers call sleep inertia, which leaves you groggy instead of energetic. It is also important to avoid napping too close to your actual bedtime for too long, as it can throw off your actual sleeping pattern.
Another important tip is to avoid doing any type of schoolwork in bed. It is important to remember to keep your workspace separate from your sleeping space, as it can eventually cause insomnia. If you are accustomed to constantly doing work in a place of rest, it may become difficult to actually fall asleep when you put down the books. Try taking the initiative to complete your work in the library instead, thereby keeping your room a place for rest.
Finally, remember to stick to a schedule. This includes managing your time to complete your work at reasonable hours of the day so all-nighters can be avoided. Remember that by forgetting to pace yourself with work and spending an entire night without rest, you are actually doing yourself a disservice when it comes to writing that paper or preparing for that exam. Do yourself a favor and plan out your day, including times for work, time with friends and time for sleep. Properly juggling these aspects of your college career is key to a healthy body.