Alive and Sleep Deprived

There are many things that take up your time: class, work, volunteering…sleeping. With so many responsibilities, sleep hours are often forfeited. You may find yourself asking, “How much sleep do I really need?” Unfortunately, there is not a definitive answer for this question yet. This is partly because it is not yet understood why we sleep. Additionally, sleep needs can vary greatly from person to person. In fact, your own sleep needs will vary across your lifetime. On average, professionals recommend that adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.


Take Advantage of the Time You DO Have Set Aside for Sleep

Make the most of the time you have dedicated for sleeping.  It can be quite frustrating if you are not actually sleeping for a significant portion of this time. Parenting experts recommend that bedtime routines for children include baths, reading, or other calming activities. Well guess what? Recommendations for adults are quite similar. In addition, avoid caffeine or foods that can keep you awake, such as those that are high in sugar. Healthy routines at night can increase your chances of sleeping when heading to bed.


Consider Your Plans

What are you planning on doing today or tomorrow?  Vegging out on the couch watching movie marathons? You probably do not need to worry about getting a full-night’s sleep (for short-term concerns, at least).  However, if you are planning on taking an important exam, playing in a championship basketball game, or trying to impress a future employer, you will probably want to dedicate some serious time to catching Z’s. Sleep shortages can affect your ability to concentrate, your reaction time, and your mood. Being grumpy is not exactly the best way to make a first impression, and staying up the night before an exam in attempt to cram in as many facts as possible can hinder your ability to retain information and think critically during the exam. 


Plan on driving somewhere?  Seriously consider your responsibility to drive safely, awake, and alert.  When you operate on restricted sleep for multiple days, you have decreased ability to gauge how sleepy you really are.  Nodding-off could be the difference between life and death behind the wheel – for you or others who share the road with you.


Know the Possible Health Consequences of Your Sleep Choices

In addition to the aforementioned consequences, individuals who are lacking sleep could experience increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, lower immune system, weight gain, mood swings, anxiety, depression, lower GPA, and the list goes on…


Additional Resources:

National Sleep Foundation

UGA – University Health Center

Sleepless at Stanford


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