Get some sleep, you need it

Studies show lack of sleep causes the brain to shrink

For many students, college is a time for finding yourself, majoring in what you love and losing a lot of sleep.

A whirlwind of events happen on a daily basis, from clubs to work to schoolwork, I’m sure many people don’t lay their heads on their pillow until well after midnight, only to get up early to start all over the next day.

The Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology released a study on how lack of sleep affects the brain, with the two tests done about three and a half years apart. Out of the 147 adults ages 20-84 years old, 35 percent showed poor sleep health.

What’s even more interesting is the same 35 percent of adults showed a faster decline in the size of their brains during the three-and-a-half-year test.

I think it goes without saying, but college students show an extreme lack of sleep, especially during the school months. U.S. News reported more than half of college students receive less than seven hours of sleep at night. In order for the body to fully recharge from the day, more is definitely needed.

Which is why it’s even more interesting that the study’s participants ranged from 20 to 84 years of age. It seems to me that after college, nothing really changes, even if the extreme work from tests, homework and projects seems to fade away.

While many people think turning to caffeine is a quick fix for lack of sleep, there are actually cons to consumption. Everyday Health states the negative side effects to consuming coffee could include: headache, insomnia, rapid heart rate, trembling and even stomach pain.

So, is it really worth it then to drink something that could make someone feel awake for maybe a fraction of the day, when sleep can provide the same energy boost?

Mayo Health Clinic stated online it’s actually beneficial to nap during the day, which may seem impossible in college. However, these naps don’t have to be the typical hour or two, which takes up a chunk of a student’s afternoon. Instead, aim for a short nap, between 10 and 30 minutes. Even if it seems like a waste of time, it actually boosts productivity.

The best time for a nap is mid-afternoon, around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. This allows for a boost in productivity throughout the night for homework, but doesn’t interfere with sleep loss at night. Napping has more benefits than having a drive to get things done; other benefits include relaxation, reduced fatigue and improved mood for the rest of the day.

Mayo Health Clinic also stated adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep at night, which seems so impossible for most people, myself included. If there comes a time at night where your brain stops processing the notes you’re taking, it’s a pretty good sign to go to sleep.

The most important thing is to listen to your body. Denying what it’s trying to tell you is just going to backfire sometime, and will cause more loss in productivity. So lay your head down, close your eyes, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for whatever comes next.