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Sleep is Golden … and Rare.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

I am not all that qualified to speak on this topic as a solid night’s sleep is not a common occurrence for me, but as an ode to my high school self who researched extensively on sleep (its patterns, disorders, and ways to upkeep it), prepared a detailed paper and worked hard to follow it, I am writing yet another piece on the topic to hopefully speak to someone’s life as well as my own. Sleep is a monumentally imperative part of being human, but, man, it can come hard to many. Here’s my story, and why I so badly want you to get the sleep you need.


To be human, or just a to be a living being in general, you need to sleep. It allows your brain, muscles, immune system and most functions to rest and restore. One’s immune system is strengthened with sleep, stress levels are lessened and many brain functions such as learning, memory, recognition and creativity are enhanced. Also, the amount of sleep you get directly correlates to your mood and energy levels; there is a very good reason why people refer to themselves as walking zombies when they don’t get enough sleep – it seems we become almost void of life.


So let’s stay refreshed and awake, okay? We can do this—no matter how hard school or life’s general stresses make it.


I do want to keep it real, though: I don’t sleep as I should, and I wish I could be more of an advocate for it. So with what I can, here are my experiences and how they cement the importance of sleep by illustrating what having little of it does to you.


Being a student is hard. Life, in general, is hard. It can be difficult to fit it all in and do all that we want to and think we should be able to, and sometimes we sacrifice sleep for it. Sometimes that sacrifice isn’t even done by our own free will—life’s stressors consume us and take it away from us. It’s a vicious cycle of being stressed, losing sleep over it, facing sleep deprivation and even higher levels of cortisol in the body—which then causes more stress. It is easy for me to tell you that you need to take the time for yourself and realize when sleep is more important than what you’re putting it off for —that sleep would even help you perform better at what you’re putting it off for—but I have fallen to it, too.


As someone with insomnia and insomniac tendencies, I tend to go to bed between 3 and 5 a.m. every night (or morning, I should say), and sometimes even six a.m. on particularly bad days. On average, I get four hours of sleep a night. With school picking up at this mid-semester point, naps are no longer a luxury I can partake in. This is common for many, more than I ever realized. People can be so good at masking the zombies inside them.


Sleep deprivation is a staple in my life, now, and it doesn’t get any less upsetting each time I think about it. You better believe I have a dependency on coffee, coffee and more coffee. There are days when all I can do is get from one class to the next and convince myself to not think about the next obligation, or three, I have. I spend my days, what feels like literally dragging myself, to only come alive at night time. I do all my living at night. The moon knows me best, I’m sure.


During the day, I always make sure I’m in public when I need to work and get things done. If not, I’m bound to crash. I’ll either sit there and do nothing but stare into space, or I find that I close my eyes for short bouts of “sleep”. If I’m in public, I am forced to be awake and doing something with myself. I have grown accustomed to taking walks to wake me up. The number of times I take late night walks is uncountable, with the wind and the brisk cold helping put some life back in me. It doesn’t always work, though. Many of the things I try don’t. I find that I have fallen asleep in places I would never expect, and I don’t even realize I’m tired enough to do so. Insomnia can be deceiving that way; you feel like you don’t need sleep since you can’t anyway, but wow is that wrong. You have a false knowledge of how awake/not awake you really are.


Other tactics of mine to stay awake and alert include constant gum chewing (I’m chewing some as we speak), always having earbuds in with upbeat music, surrounding myself with people all of the time, and writing to-do lists frequently. But, I still find myself sleeping in classes. All that’s expected of me is to sit there and listen, which just tells my body that that’s the time to sleep, even if it’s the worst time. I’ve worked doubles and long shifts where I’m worn, easily irritable, stressed, anxious and weak, but I have to put on a face for good service. That’s just my life in a moment right there.


I have realized that what I thought was tired before is nothing compared to this. It physically pains me sometimes to keep my eyelids up in class. I start to nod off and am internally willing myself up, but I just can’t get myself to open my eyes and lift my head. I’ve grown less and less surprised with waking up and lifting my head off desks with ink on my cheek. I’ve grown numb and used to the fact that I don’t often look forward to the things I used to, and that I’m not performing as well as I would’ve.


So I have been trying some things out. These are some recommendations I’ve been given and have come to practice.


1. Exercise at night and try to not work on anything after – let your brain and body relax and grow tired

2. Try Sleepy Time Tea, also known as Chamomile tea

3. Lavender essential oils and aromatherapy are known to produce calming effects

4. During the day, try energy-boosting aromatherapy

5. Write to-do lists to help organize your mind and all that it’s working through

6. Surround yourself with a cheerful color (Mine is yellow!)

7. Journal! Put your mind on paper.


There are many other things one can do to try and sleep more, I’m sure. These do help in relaxing me, though I still find I struggle with calming my brain completely. School and responsibilities can really get to someone and hinder their every day, let me tell you (but I’m sure you already know). I hope that you are sleeping well (or will soon), getting the proper amount and efficiency and are waking up refreshed more often than not. You deserve to feel like your most optimal self and feel that sense of control over who you are and what you want to do.


Take care of yourself. Sleep well.


Visit  https://www.tuck.com/ and https://www.sleepfoundation.org/ to learn more about sleep.


Kelsey is studying Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a specific passion for Sports Communication. Catch her on campus with a coffee glued to her hand, baseball on the brain (go Cubs!), and one earbud in. If you ever want to talk about sports, music, dogs, or anything, she is always open for good conversation.
Hannah, originally from Milwaukee, WI is a Campus Correspondent for HC Wisconsin.  Hannah is a Senior and is studying Political Science and Psychology.  She aspires to work in health policy and will run for office one day.  She is never seen without a cup of coffee in hand and loves to eat any food in sight, especially sushi.  Outside of school, Hannah frequents Badger sporting events and likes to hang out with her friends on the weekends finding new things to do and new places to eat.  Hannah also runs her own Mary Kay business and is obsessed with keeping up with the latest makeup trends! This will be her seventh semester on the Her Campus team, and she loves the org more and more each semester!  It is Hannah's favorite thing that she is involved in on campus and highly recommends anyone with an interest in writing, journalism, or blogging to get involved, you won't regret it! On Wisconsin!!