The Merits of Sleep

We’ve all heard the spiel: "No one sleeps in college … I can sleep when I am dead … I have work and class, I can’t sleep …" and so on. Meanwhile, in the background, our professors say to be sure to sleep before the exams! This is a widespread topic, especially during the week of “falling forward” with daylight savings time. Why do working adults promote such a vestigial part of life as sleep, you ask? Here are the top benefits of sleep for students. 

1. Sleep improves brain function

Your sleep levels impact your concentration, memory, problem-solving abilities, and mood. Basically, the less sleep you have the more problems you are likely to have. If you sleep, however, your brain functions will improve, making you a better student. Even a 20-minute nap in the quad will help you out, so before your next midterm, sleep, don’t cram. Interestingly, sleep can improve the emotional parts of memory, which improves creativity. Apparently, rest between one and four p.m. does not affect nighttime sleeping habits, so that might be the perfect time for a nap. Furthermore, sleep may help reduce your stress levels. When we are awake for too long or go to bed too late, we focus on the negative more. Consistent sleep will minimize your risk of depression and other mental health issues. 

2. Sleeping enhances your immune response

During sleep, your body reboots itself by repairing and regrowing tissues and building bones and muscle. Your immune response is also strengthened during sleep. When your body doesn’t have time to reset, an emergency stress response starts, which makes it easier for you to get sick. Rest also gives the brain a chance to flush out toxins. While this may occur during waking hours, the process is faster while sleeping. 

3. Sleep helps your physical appearance

Obviously, if we sleep, we won’t have dark circles under our eyes. Less known is that growth hormones are secreted during deep sleep. Growth hormones are critical for muscle mass and skin health. Sleep is necessary for collagen formation, which keeps skin looking young. On the flip side, sleep deprivation releases cortisol, which breaks down collagen! In addition, sleep may have an effect on weight gain. For some reason, people who sleep more are more likely to weigh less.

Image Source: Pexels

4. Food choices can change with sleep deprivation

Sleep affects many things, including our food choices! Our bodies crave high-fat and sugary foods when we do not sleep as a result of insulin sensitivity. Too much sleep deprivation and the subsequent cravings may put us at risk for type 2 diabetes.

5. Wine is not good

Lastly, I hate to be the one to say it, but wine does not help us sleep. Wine delays the start of and shortens the duration of REM sleep. REM is a very important cycle of sleep for energy, memory, and health, so we do not want to miss it! REM is also when we dream, so if you desperately want to dream about your crush, you might have to close your eyes for a few more hours. 

Image Source: Pexels

Overall, sleep makes us better at doing our work and decreases health risks, which sounds like a good deal to me. It is hard as a college student to find time to sleep, but it would be to your benefit to try to get some shut-eye. Perhaps this is the quarter to rearrange your schedule for more sleep. Now you may be wondering, how much is enough? Well, however much you need to feel refreshed the next day! 

Resources: Best Health & Fastweb