Sleep Isn’t That Important, Right?
I had to write a research paper for my sociology class last week and couldn’t seem to find a topic that interested me. I spent a good hour skimming through article after article trying to find something not too boring to write about.
I had almost decided the research paper wasn’t going to happen that day when I came across an article about sleep.
Because I was currently running on about five hours of sleep and had already pulled an all-nighter that week, the article sounded pretty enticing. Since the semester is already half gone and finals are approaching rather rapidly, I thought you all might benefit from what I read.
The researchers in the article did a study on a bunch of military guys and tested them physically as well as mentally with different amounts of sleep. What they discovered, I found rather surprising: getting less than seven hours of sleep is like having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent.
This meant that their reaction time, motivation and overall productivity were decreased. They also found that people who got very little sleep on a regular basis were more likely to feel depressed, fatigued and feel as though they had a lower quality of life.
When they were allowed more sleep, around eight or nine hours each day, the researchers discovered that these qualities all reversed themselves. The men found they had more time to spend with their families, they felt more motivated and capable of performing their tasks at work and felt their overall quality of life was higher.
This study got me thinking about myself as a college student. If sleep improved the productivity and lives of people in the military, what could sleep do for me? Before reading the article, I had the mentality that sleep was for the weak. I think many of us have this mindset and tend to put sleep on the back burner. We tend to think that staying up all night to cram for that test we’ve procrastinated studying for will actually benefit us.
However, getting adequate sleep will help you more than you think. You’ll be able to retain information in class and accomplish tasks quicker.
So as the semester ends, I want to challenge everyone to make time for sleep and plan better so that we can go to bed and wake up refreshed. Maybe getting in those extra z’s will give you a surprising advantage.
Lena Wilkie is a freshman studying international rescue and relief.