My first term in college was truly a learning experience. Not only was I starting my education, I was learning to live for myself. I no longer had to follow anyone’s rules but my own. The problem was, I didn’t know what my rules were yet.
Now, I’m a person that loves to sleep, but back then I decided sleep was my last priority. There were so many exciting people to meet and places to see. Who needs sleep?
During finals week, I stayed awake for four days straight. I don’t know how I did it, but I did. I spend that time making up for all the studying I didn’t do during the term. When I finally allowed myself to sleep, I slept almost fifteen hours.
As it turns out, all that studying was for nothing. I didn’t do well on my exams, and I could not for the life of my figure out why. I went through everything, and thought it was fresh in my mind. What I didn’t realize was that without sleep, I wasn’t learning anything.
Our brains are always working. Even when we are asleep, our brains are active and thinking. When we sleep, our brains process everything we have taken in that day. We don’t really learn anything until we sleep on it. No wonder I did so poorly on my exams. I spent all that time studying, but I didn’t learn anything.
You may, or may not, be aware that you are not getting enough sleep. If you aren’t sure, look for symptoms of sleep deprivation. Some of these include: tiredness, irritability, irrational thoughts, excessive stress, memory or concentration problems, changes in appetite, and vulnerability to sickness. You may be mean, snappy and exhausted.
When you experience sleep deprivation, your brain slows down. It’s not absorbing any knowledge, nor is it working up to par. Your driving abilities will be compromised, as well as your ability to make snap decisions. It also affects your physical well-being and health. Your body relies on sleep each night for healing.
You should strive for at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night. While this isn’t always possible, you should get as much as you can. New moms often have interrupted sleep due to caring for their newborns. Try to make up for lost sleep by napping when baby is napping.
Some people can get by on less than eight hours and some need more. It is simply a matter of finding out what is right for you. If you are only sleeping six hours a night, yet you feel alert, healthy and relatively non-stressed, you might be OK with that amount.
Children and Teenagers
Small children need up to ten hours of sleep a night to function properly. If they aren’t getting enough sleep they will be grumpy, prone to illness, and may even experience growth or learning problems.
Teenagers are notorious for not sleeping when they are supposed to be, and then making up for it during study hall. Teens need more than eight hours of sleep to remain healthy and alert. Try to get your teenager to sleep earlier each night.
Some of us can’t sleep, even when we desperately need it. This can happen for many reasons, the biggest being stress. Make sure you stay away from caffeine drinks during the second half of your day. If you feel stressed and can’t sleep, think about learning some relaxation techniques to relax yourself each day. Yoga or meditation work well for many people. If none of these seem to help, you may want to see your doctor.
Sleep is a beautiful thing, just ask my younger brothers. They have sleeping down to an art. When things get hectic, you may consider sleep your last priority. Don’t make this mistake. Give yourself some TLC by getting enough sleep every night.