When was the last time you woke up feeling 100 percent well-rested?
We live in a culture where hustling is glorified. We honor people who work relentlessly to achieve success, no matter what the cost is. Far too often, the first thing we sacrifice when we are faced with a hectic schedule, especially as college students, is sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average young adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night, which is virtually unheard of in our culture of all-nighters and energy drinks. Research from the University Health Center at UGA declares that the average college student only averages six to 6.9 hours a night. Sure, we may be able to work or hang out with friends, but what side effects are we ignoring?
Sleep Restores Your Energy (And Your Body, Too!)
A good night of sleep helps you feel energized and refreshed the next day. While you rest, your body resets. A study from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that sleep repairs stress-related damage strengthens your immune and nervous systems and produces proteins to repair cells. Yes! Your body is capable of all of these magical changes — you just have to give it the time.
Sleep Makes You Smarter
All-day long, we absorb information. From names and dates to ECON 101 notes, our brains spend our waking hours working as hard as possible to take in all that information. When we sleep, our brains continue working; they sort and store all experiences, remove irrelevant information, and retain what is most important. This process heightens your connection-making skills. You may not get a perfect 4.0 from getting eight hours of shut-eye every night, but you may notice that your memory seems sharper. Next time you’re thinking of pulling an all-nighter to cram, opt for a deep sleep instead.
Sleep Helps You Stress Less
Not getting enough sleep enters our bodies into a state of stress, which can put us on high alert. This state puts both your body and mind at risk. As college students, we are chronically stressed. According to the medical journal, “Depression and Anxiety,” 75 percent of college students reported one or more major stressful events in the past year, with 20 percent experiencing five or more.
When we are sleep deprived, our blood pressure rises and the production of stress hormones increases dramatically. Chronic stress puts individuals at increased risk for health problems later in life, including inflammation, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.
A simple way to mediate these risks is by getting enough rest. A good night of sleep allows your body to counteract the stresses of the day.
Sleep Can Fight Depression
Prioritizing sleep may do wonders for your mental health as well! The relationship between depression and sleep is incredibly complex, but the two are undoubtedly linked.
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating many functions, including both mood and sleep. According to the scholarly journal, “Sleep”, sleep deprivation over a prolonged period desensitizes your serotonin receptors, which leaves you vulnerable to mental illnesses, like depression. The more effective your serotonin receptors are, the lower your risk of depression is. A study conducted by the California Institute of Technology breaks this down simply: More Sleep = More Serotonin = Less Risk of Depression.
What You Can Do
This all may seem overwhelming to you, but don’t worry! Try, just for a week, to get eight solid hours of sleep per night. Prioritize yourself by prioritizing your sleep. Take time to relax, unplug and slow down before you climb into bed – then sleep! Instead of complaining about how many cups of coffee it took for you to wake up in the morning, share with your friends how truly wonderful it feels to take on the day with the correct amount of nightly rest.
For more information on getting great sleep visit https://www.sleepfoundation.org