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Sleep is for the week, finals week

by Shelby Toth - Copy Edior
Sat, Dec 9th 2017 05:00 pm

Finals week is coming up! Everyone knows what that means: staying up later and later until you require enough caffeine to supply a Starbucks for months just to get through the day. On top of balancing class, work and holiday preparations, we’re often encouraged to go out on the weekends and enjoy the last few party nights we have before breaking until spring semester.

As finals fall upon us, we often feel pressure to pull these unhealthy all-nighters. They’re glorified as a common method to finish final projects or to last-minute cram for an exam the next day. 

Sleep isn’t viewed as a necessary part of the daily routine, but as something you can always “catch up” on later. “Sleep is for the weak,” we shout at 4 a.m. as our eyelids droop further and our body cries out in exhaustion.

Okay, pause. Let’s stop thinking of the potential benefits of all-nighters and, instead, focus on the much larger amount of positives that come from actually getting some sleep.

Sleep has been proven to help people be healthier on multiple levels. According to the University Health Center at the University of Georgia, sleep helps to restore our energy, fight illness and fatigue and strengthen our immune system. It also helps us to think clearly and creatively, strengthen our memory, be in a better mood and overall perform better during the course of the day. Here are some other facts about sleep we should all take a second out of our oh-so-busy schedules to read:

 

How much sleep:

First of all, we’re not talking about any old hour of sleep here. In order to receive the benefits of punching out for the day, adults typically need 6-10 hours of it per night. People can vary on how much sleep they personally need in order to function, and if you find yourself cranky and irritable during the week, sleeping an extra two hours or more on the weekends, you might want to adjust your sleeping habits to a healthy 7-8 a night.

 

On the physical side:

It’s easiest to explain why you should get sleep by talking about the negatives of not getting sleep. Not getting sleep can cause many health issues. Our immune system is weakened by a lack of sleep, allowing infections like the cold and flu to ravage our bodies. If you have existing heart and lung conditions, those can worsen.

Sleep deprivation has also been proven to have a link to obesity. When you’re lacking sleep, your body releases more ghrelin, a hunger hormone, and less leptin, a hormone that reduces appetite. These hormonal changes working together often cause weight gain. Lack of sleep is also a leading cause in motor vehicle accidents, and many major industrial accidents have been contributed to sleepy workers. Sleep deprivation also negatively affects brain function, attention span, mood and reaction times. 

 

On the mental side:

There’s many negative mental health complications attributed to sleep deprivation as well. Lack of sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety and relationship issues. In a biannual study conducted at the University of Georgia, one in four students at the college report sleep deprivation negatively affecting their grades. The brain also organizes, sorts and stores information gathered throughout the day during sleep, and weeds out irrelevant information in order to make what you learned easier to recall. So basically, trying to cram all night instead of sleep might prove to be more harm than good.

 

Of course, sleep disorders do unfortunately affect many people. If you think you suffer from any sort of sleep disorder, it is best to consult a medical professional, as they can offer you advice or medication to keep your circadian cycle in check.

As we head into the mountain of finals and final projects before us, let us all promise to hit the hay rather than the books or the town after midnight. Our bodies will thank us. 

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