Being William and Mary students, I’m sure we all have in common the lack of sufficient sleep. We are always “on-the-go,” jumping from one thing to the next, which takes away from valuable and much-needed sleep time. I am assuming that many of you, like myself, brush it off with the thought “Oh, I will be fine. It cannot be that bad.” Well here’s the truth: when you lose sleep, you lose your health.
I understand that my previous statement is blunt. However, I want to make it clear just how important sleep really is. A simple hour or two less than the needed 7-8 hours of sleep per night is enough to impair your brain functioning (that’s the last thing we would want). Research shows that there is a link to sleep and one’s mental health. Studies have shown a correlation of lack of sleep with depression, a major problem that is prevalent among college students. Sleep is a key part in our body’s immune system when it comes to fighting off infections. Though it might have been fun to have sick days and get babied by our mothers when we were sick in high school, now we cannot afford to fall behind in our workloads from sickness, especially colds that could have been prevented by sleep.
So, just what do we do about all this?
1. It is important to get as much sleep as possible, while managing your busy schedules and work. Of course, there will be times when you will not get your full amount of needed sleep per week, but that’s when you should use the weekends to play catch up. Let your mind and body restored and refreshed, leaving you feeling more productive and lively!
2. Caution: DO NOT PULL ALL-NIGHTERS! I am sure you all are probably thinking, “Is she crazy? How can we not do that? What about finals?” In my recent Health Psychology lecture on sleep, Professor Sinton stressed how all-nighters really do not benefit you. It is through sleep, especially Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase sleep that our body consolidates memories and protects them from decay and interference. Thus, it is important to get sleep after long days of studying so that your brain can register all the information you just learned. In fact, it is known that “learning heavy” days, lead to more REM sleep that night, which can only help with memory formation and learning.
3. Relax! It is inevitable that we cannot avoid stress altogether. However, we can certainly learn what works best for us when it comes to reducing stress. For myself, it is going on long runs in Colonial Williamsburg or doing Hot Yoga at Williamsburg’s Body Balance Studios. Find what helps you cope and stick with it. This will not only help your mental health but it will also help your sleep, contributing to your overall health.
So sit back and relax and make time for those sweet dreams!