The amount of sleep I receive is like a movie teaser – short and unsatisfying. However, sometimes it’s like a documentary that never ends and you can’t bring yourself to leave (the bed). Let’s just say you don’t see “sleep” on university pamphlets for a reason…
First off, if you’re reading this and you’re in university – you’re probably tired of hearing people complain about the lack of sleep they’re getting. Unfortunately, tired people don’t have the mental capacity for anything else. I’ve seen a shift, or rather a 180° flip, in my sleeping habits since I have walked through the doors of higher education. Going to bed at 2am has become the norm and there are days where I don’t see morning (Sorry mom). Let’s not be so quick to give university all the credit, I have always been a night owl. And yes, early birds – though a rare and ostracized breed – still exist in university. But one thing is for sure: you are considered a hero if you can get 8 hours of sleep a night.
Now enough about the trials and tribulations of tiredness and onto the tactics.
20-minute naps: Take a nap. If you want to feel revitalized without a full night’s rest – TRUST ME – have some faith in napping. 20 minutes is just enough time for you to recharge your batteries without the groggy feeling that comes with a longer nap. This is because 20 minutes isn’t enough time for your body to enter REM sleep, which is a period of deep sleep characterized by high brain activity.
You might not feel like you’ve ‘slept’ during this 20 minutes, but it makes a difference. Stop thinking that ‘sleep’ is only when you blackout and dream. You can be semi-conscious the whole time. The effectiveness of this method is wholly dependent on your ability to put faith in the 20 minute nap method and wake up after your 20 minutes are over. I’m not saying you will feel ready to run a marathon, but you will prolong your ability to stay awake.
Coffee naps: I’m not as strong an advocate for it, but I’ll include it for all you coffee lovers out there. It’s basically when you wake up, drink a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, go back to bed, and wake up ‘naturally’ 15-20 minutes later once the caffeine kicks in. Now I would still set an alarm because part of the success of this method is needing to pee after chugging a whole cup of coffee. That being said, everyone has a difference tolerance to coffee and caffeine is not some magic wake-up drug.
The Exercise Theory: Oh you’re tired? Why don’t you exercise! Seems like the last thing you would want to be doing, but apparently exercising helps to boost your energy levels. However, your workout is less effective when sleep deprived. Make an effort to do some activity every day, but it doesn’t have to be an hour gym session. I find exercise helps with stress relief, which allows for a more peaceful night’s rest.
Micromanaging: Instead of sitting down in front of your computer and telling yourself “okay, I have the whole night to do this assignment!”, break it up into smaller tasks. If you micromanage, allocating 1 hour for this assignment and 1 hour for that reading, you will be more productive. When you only have one hour to do a reading, you tend not to spend your time twirling your pencil. The hard part is staying within the time limit – do not be your own worst enemy and continue to extend the time constraint. If anything, you can go back and finish the rest of the reading once you have taken a ‘break’ with your other assignments. Effective time management will leave you with more time for sleeping! Yay!
Now I realize this post is teetering on a tedious length, so I’ll try and wrap it up (so you can sleep). University students need sleep. They need sleep so they can perform their best for an education they are paying loads for. It’s not even about achieving high grades on assignments, it’s about being able to be present for that phenomenal lecture you’re dozing off in.
In university, the importance of sleeping is harmed by a celebration of the ‘sacrifice your sleep’ attitude.
Go hard or go home.
I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Earn your sleep.
I’m guilty of perpetuating this attitude and glamorizing sleep deprivation. It is based off the typical attitudes of young people who still think they are invincible. But we’re not. Why do you think naps are so commonplace in university? We clearly understand the importance of sleep but are less inclined to do something about it.
It’s time we start shifting our focus to the long term. Cumulative sleep deprivation only harms us by stunting our growth, decreasing our mental capacity, and limiting the basic functioning of our body. We’ll get more stuff done if we get a solid nights rest rather than continue to live our lives mediated by a filter of sleep deprivation.
Wake up everyone, and sleep.
P.S. The typography used is created by the ever so talented Jason Vandenberg, I encourage you to take a peek at his blog.