Sleep? What is this concept of sleep?
To the busybody high school students (such as the one currently reading this article), sleep may be a rather foreign concept. With all the school work, sports, clubs, and other activities that you have to somehow juggle, taking the time to rest is a real struggle. And besides, a few hours of sleep can be sacrificed for an A+ on your Biology lab or 100% on your Social Studies Quiz, right?
Well, I’m here to prove you wrong. Sleep is essential to one’s well-being and it takes precedence over all else, even (gasp), your grades. Scandalous, I know. But, according to Tony Schwartz on the Harvard Business Review, sleep may be even more important than the reason for our existence, food. Not only that, but sleep brings along a plethora of benefits to your sanity and well-being. Check out the list of benefits below:
1. Improves memory. Your brain is hard at work while you are asleep to synthesize all the information you obtained during the day. This is a process called “consolidation”. You may find that you will recall certain bits of information faster if you had more sleep than if you stayed up to study.
2. Increases creativity. Those wild bursts of innovation that you desperately need to come up with that tough design lab idea that has been bugging you for weeks? Well, more sleep will cause these outbursts to occur more often. Researchers from Boston College and Harvard University found that while your brain consolidates information, it reorganizes and restructures the information, strengthening emotional components of your memory as to boost you creativity.
3. Gives you a stamina boost. If you’re an athlete, sleep is the key to an outstanding athletic career. According to research conducted by Stanford University, college football players who sleep for at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks straight managed to improve their sprint times, feel more energized throughout the day, and had more stamina in general.
4. Helps with weight loss. The new fad diets are all out. Sleep is in. Sleep has been found to regulate the hormone “ghrelin”, the hormone that makes you hungry, and “leptin”, the hormone that makes you feel full. The more rest you get, the more balanced your hormones are, and the less likely you will eat more than what you really need.
5. Kills off stress. More time to relax equals less stress to deal with. It’s as simple as that. It has also been revealed that sleep can improve cardiovascular health by controlling cholesterol levels, keeping them in a healthy range, greatly diminishing the risks of heart disease.
6. Slows down the aging process. In a good sleep, your body temperature lowers, thus making it easier for cells to focus on the rejuvenating process, replacing old tissue with new tissue. This will give an overall appearance of youth.
7. Strengthens your immune system. Natural immune system regulators tend to increase with the increase of good quality sleep, which arms your immune system more effectively.
8. Helps with emotional balance and mood disorders. Feeling moody? That’s may be because you only slept four hours the night before. Grumpiness, irritation, and volatility are all emotional side effects of the lack of sleep. Chronic sleep-deprivation has been found to have a direct correlation with mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
9. Reduces the chance of developing diabetes. Sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as they lack the sleep to regulate the glucose (carbohydrate) processing in your body. Studies from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School show that adults who reduced their sleep time from eight to four hours have a lower rate of processing glucose.
10. Improves your overall aesthetic value. Yes, it’s true. Sleep can make you look prettier. With more sleep, your complexion will clear up, you won’t have panda eyes anymore, and you will have smoother skin. Any of the moisturizers you use will also tend to have better absorption during sleep. So goodbye foundation and concealer and hello au naturel!
These benefits are quite enticing, I know. But you simply don’t have the time management to get enough sleep, right? Well, by following the few tips and tricks listed below, you’ll be sure to get that A+ without having to sacrifice the great benefits that come along with sleep:
1. Schedule an early bedtime and stick to it. No excuses. Any homework left over can be done in the morning. This will help increase your productivity as you have a tight deadline to work towards.
2. Be organized. Write down all that you have to do and estimate how long each task will take. See if you can combine small activities or break down big activities.
3. Learn the art of prioritization. Don’t spend all your time doing an assignment that is due three weeks from now when you could be working on that paper due tomorrow.
4. Reward yourself with some breaks. Learn how to incorporate breaks in your studying. It’s counterintuitive, I know. But productivity tends to drop if you focus on one subject and task for too long, and as such, your work gets sloppy and you waste more time trying to focus.
5. Have a flexible schedule. Learn how to rearrange your activities when something unexpected comes up. Having a rigid schedule will only cause you more unnecessary stress that keeps you up at night.
6. Develop a personal learning strategy. Whatever helps you focus when you’re doing work, do it. Whether it is listening to music or having a quiet study space, studying with friends or studying alone, do what you need to do to make sure you will be on task, and productive.
7. Create a checklist of tasks and check it off every time you finish a task. It’s quite odd how you feel so proud of yourself each time you check off a task. This rewarding feeling will help motivate you to keep on working to meet these little goals. And once you’re finished with the checklist, that feeling of relief mixed with accomplishment is totally worth it.
8. Plan in advance, if possible. Yeah, there will be many unexpected events popping up in your life. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t know about any future events. That huge biology lab that’s due next month? You might want to split it into chunks each week instead of pulling an all-nighter the day before. Trust me, your report card will thank you.
9. Cut off all social media contact while you’re working. Twitter? Nope. Facebook? Forget it. As Grade 11 student Shovon D. puts it ever so eloquently, “I just chuck my phone over my shoulder. There’s a bed there so that it doesn’t break, but just not having it in front of me helps me focus on my work.”
10. Stop your perfectionist ways. I myself fall prey to this double-edged blade. Sure, making one assignment perfect will boost your marks and satisfy your need for perfection, but really in the long run, will this tiny assignment matter? Don’t nitpick at every single detail if you’re running out of time. Instead, focus your attentions on other tasks that also require your attention. Your grade point average will thank you.
11. Consider emigrating from Procrastination Nation. Every student’s Achilles heel. The only way to overcome procrastination is to break up huge daunting tasks into little ones to complete. Remember, if you do a little each day, that big project will be finished sometime soon.
12. Trouble falling asleep? Do some relaxing activities before bed. Avoid electronics. Drinking herbal tea and reading before you go to bed will help you ease into sleep. Bright lights from your iPhone, Computer, Laptop, or iPod will all mess up your circadian rhythm and make you feel less inclined to sleep.
So what are you waiting for? Try some of these tips now and experience the full-package benefits of no sleep deprivation! I, for one, will stop staying up this late to finish this article for the enjoyment of you, the reader, and get some well-earned rest. Have fun, good luck, and good night!
– Elizabeth Y.
“Benefits Of Sleep – How to Sleep Better.” Better-Sleep-Better-Life.com. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. <http://www.better-sleep-better-life.com/benefits-of-sleep.html>.
“Sleeping Beauty: Sleep Your Way to Better Skin and Hair.” Fitness Magazine. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. <http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/beauty/guides/makeovers/sleeping-beauty-sleep-your-way-to-better-skin-and-hair/>.
“Teens and Sleep.” Sleep for Teenagers 4. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. .
“Time Management.” Time Management. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nyu.edu/students/undergraduates/academic-services/undergraduate-advisement/academic-resource-center/tutoring-and-learning/academic-skills-workshops/time-management.html>.
“Time Management Tips for Students.” Time Management Tips for Students. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. <http://www.cob.sjsu.edu/nellen_a/time_management.htm>.
McCaig, Racheal. “The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep.” Canadian Living. Transcontinental Media G.P. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. .
“11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep.” Health.com. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. <http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20459221,00.html>.
Special thanks to Biology IB 20/30 Class of 2014-2015 for time management suggestions.