Undergraduate student Madeleine Cheng, class of 2021, finance and information systems double major and history minor, writes about the importance of sleep.
As we look forward to this semester, there are numerous things we can do to make sure we are working at our most productive levels and succeeding in all our classes and extracurriculars. These things include eating right, setting aside time for studying, exercising regularly, and arguably most importantly, getting enough sleep.
Sleep is extremely important for our bodies to function properly and for our minds to learn and grow. Studies have shown that a lack of good quality sleep can have detrimental effects on learning and memory.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our neurons become overworked and have difficulty sending and coordinating information, which leads us to losing our ability to reach information we have previously learned. It also affects our focus and attention, which results in increased problems of absorbing and retaining information–both of which we need to do well in class!
While the negative effects of sleep deprivation are evident, there are many positive effects when we do sleep enough. Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at the National Institute of Health (NIH), emphasizes the importance of sleep and its ability to affect “almost every tissue in our bodies.”
Sleep helps reduce stress, inflammation, risk of certain cancers, and it helps strengthen the heart and allows for our bodies to recover and heal any wounds we have.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended number of hours of sleep for young adults, those aged 18-25, is between 7 and 9 hours, while anything under 6 hours is not recommended.
Additionally, it’s not just the length of sleep that matters, but also the quality of it. There are several tips and tricks to ensure a quality night’s sleep. One tip is to avoid looking at cell phones or other electronic devices that emit blue light right before you sleep. You can also choose to turn on night mode on your phone when it gets to 10PM, like I do, so that the light is a warmer, redder glow that will help you fall asleep better than the blue light glow. Some other tricks that help you fall asleep faster and deeper include listening to calming music, stretching, or meditating before bed, to get your body relaxed and ready for sleep.
Of course, everybody’s body is different and may need different number of hours of sleep or may need to practice varying before-bed habits. Regardless however, sleep is essential for everyone. We need sleep to function well and productively and to maintain our health; without it, a whole host of negative chain reactions can follow.
So, let’s make sure that we start this semester off well-rested and fresh by catching those zzz’s! Sleep tight!