The Science of Sleep

p>College students do, frankly, a lot of dumb things: risky partying, cram sessions, terrible relationships. But those are all par for the course, and more importantly, those are things they know are dumb. They’re just part of the college experience. Unfortunately, there’s another part of college life that’s all too common but isn’t respected for how much damage it can cause to your health: skipping sleep. Whether it’s for an all-night study marathon, a spontaneous road trip, or just for no reason at all, college students stay up late and constantly cheat themselves on the amount of sleep they need to stay healthy and active. It might not seem like a big deal, but it is.

Adults — and that includes college students — need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. It doesn’t matter what else is going on in your life, you need to rest. Period. There are so many reasons to get a good amount of sleep each night that it’s hard to know where to begin, but let’s go with health to start. Keeping your body well rested is your first line of defense in keeping it strong and able to fend off the various colds and bugs that always seem to bounce around college campuses in colder months. The more tired you are, the weaker you are, and the more susceptible to sickness you become. It’s ludicrous to think you wouldn’t want to do everything possible keep yourself healthy, but students still abuse their sleep schedules with abandon.

Getting more sleep also drastically improves your academic performance, from your ability to retain information given in lectures to your skill at synthesizing it for papers and exams. Students often complain about their ability to concentrate in class, but it has nothing to do with the subject material: boring classes can still be easily conquered if you give your brain and body time to rest and recuperate. Your grades will improve, guaranteed, if you implement some better time management and commit to a regular amount of sleep nightly.

Being rested is also a great way to reduce stress. With more energy and a clearer head, you won’t feel nearly as overwhelmed by major projects or whatever piece of drama is thrown your way that week. Problems are a lot easier to solve when you’re able to approach them with a fresh and rested mind. It sounds almost too good to be true, but regular sleep is a surefire way to increase your overall happiness.

Does this mean you have to miss out on the all the fun stuff in college? Not at all. It just means being smarter with your time and planning when to study, when to hang out, and when to treat yourself to a glorious eight hours of sleep. Once you start, you won’t want to stop.

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