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Finals season is coming up quickly for many of us. It’s likely even more stressful because of the pandemic circumstances, although we should be getting used to taking exams virtually by now. Keeping your priorities straight in the heat of finals is always difficult, so I’m here to remind you of why they’re so important. 

College students’ priorities can vary widely depending on the type of student you are. However, sleep is universally adored by nearly all college kids — though most of us don’t get enough of it. We’ve been told countless times by our parents how important it is and how it’s necessary for our growth and development, but we’re grown now right? It shouldn’t matter anymore? Wrong. 

Getting eight or more hours of sleep every night, on a consistent schedule, has proven benefits. The benefits range from being less moody, having better overall health, gaining more energy, and even doing better in your classes. When your body and mind have the proper time to recover, they’re able to perform at their peak — this allows you to achieve more! A study done by Professor Michael Scullin at Baylor University proved this. The study is entitled, The Eight Hour Sleep Challenge During Final Exams Week (2019), if you’re interested in reading it in full. 

He offered his students one point of extra credit on their final if they slept for eight hours every night the week prior to the exam. The students who chose to participate wore sleep tracking devices in order to ensure accountability. Not surprisingly, the participating students scored much higher than the rest of their classmates who opted out of the experiment, regardless of the extra credit point offered. Not only this, but the participating students also felt less stressed heading into the exam and found that their brains functioned better than they had ever before in an exam. 

This study proves the common fact that we all know to be true — maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and allowing ourselves adequate time to rest and recover is key to collegiate success. However, it can be a bit hard to implement good sleep habits in real life. I’ve found using the “bedtime” feature on my phone to be helpful — it warms your phone’s color scheme (which in turn dilutes the amount of blue light you’re receiving), puts your phone on do not disturb, and pops up with a little reminder that “it’s bedtime!” whenever you glance at your screen. That reminder made it much easier for me to put my work down and start my bedtime routine, which is my next tip. After a long day of schoolwork, much of it online, and hazy boundaries between school and your private life, it can be hard to calm down for bed. Having a nighttime routine in place allows me to properly unwind for bed, which makes the transition to sleep much easier. 

I hope this article makes you reconsider your sleep habits and priorities this finals season — best of luck on your exams! 


Katie Ryan

Columbia Barnard '24

Katie is an incoming first year at Columbia College. She's a coxswain for the men's heavyweight crew team and spends her free time working out, volunteering, and reading. Katie is planning to double major in English & Comparative Literature and Human Rights, specializing in Economics.
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