You don’t need me to tell you that studying is exhausting. And with all the assessments, exams and coursework (read: socialising) you have to schedule in, it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, having a healthy dose of ZZZ’s every night is probably more important than you realise.
An endless barrage of studies have linked a lack of sleep to numerous health risks, including obesity and diabetes. The latest in the long list, by Wheaton College, Illinois, has connected poor and disrupted sleep with a higher risk of developing dementia.
Not having enough sleep can also contribute to certain addictions or reliances. It generates a downward spiral of behaviour, where we become dependent on stimulants like coffee or Red Bull to perk ourselves up after a miserable night of insufficient sleep. The caffeine intake, spread throughout the day, then keeps us awake late at night, starting the process off again.
Alongside these dangers, other obvious things will start to happen if you don’t get eight hours of physical and mental recovery a day. Your looks will start to suffer (shock horror!), you will become run-down and get sick, and your ability to think clearly will diminish.
While scary, these findings are useful as a way of concentrating our minds on the value of sleep. Sleep protects our brains, helping to put it in a state where it can rejuvenate and restore itself, put everything back in sync, and try its best to help every cell and organ in the body to replenish.
If we don’t take the time to restore our bodies, it’s only inevitable that longer term health issues like dementia will arise. The possibility of developing a serious illness caused (at least in part) by a lack of sleep may seem far off now, but trust us when we say you don’t want to take the risk.
So, what can we do to stop the rot? Eight hours a night sounds great, but it can be easier said than done.
One trick? Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get one big eight-hour chunk. Instead, try to get eight hours in one 24 hour day. Take a quick half hour in your lunch break or on the train, to make up for sleep lost at night. That way, it matters less if you don’t get to bed until midnight and know the alarm is going to do its thing at 6am.