Sleep and the Smithie: Snore to Score

Lucille Ausman '17 Staff Writer

“Sleeping your way to the top” was the motto of last year’s commencement speaker Ariana Huffington. She was talking about literal sleep, as in the eight hours of rest we are supposed to afford ourselves each day, eight hours when we can allow ourselves to finally slow down, rest and rejuvenate. Despite Huffington’s words of wisdom, Smithies still find this concept of rest quite foreign.

It isn’t uncommon to see Smithies up late, cramming in homework and caffeine, in the library on any given weeknight. Many of our weekends too are filled with late nights out with friends, or at least late-night Netflix binging. We know we’re young and there’s work to be done and fun to be had. It’s college, after all, and we should be able to handle the late nights. What we don’t know is the detrimental effects of sleep loss and sleep deprivation. Or if we do know of these effects, then we choose to ignore them and ought to be reminded.

Sleep deprivation isn’t just a problem among Smithies. According to a 2001 study, only 11 percent of college students have good sleep quality, and 73 percent have occasional sleep problems. This same study found that 18 percent of college men and 30 percent of college women reported suffering from insomnia within the past three months, and over half reported feeling sleepy during the morning. These statistics are concerning because sleep loss results in problems greater than just bags under our eyes. Sleep loss decreases your ability to function on in daily activities, weakens your immune system, causes extreme drowsiness and makes concentrating difficult. Furthermore sleep loss has been shown to cause an increase in mood swings, depression and a general dissatisfaction with life.

In the midst of midterms and our busy schedules, we often forget these harmful elements of our late-night study sessions and erratic weekend plans. Being the overachievers we are, we are always tempted to sacrifice that extra hour for the chance at a better grade, and our FOMO (fear of missing out) usually keeps us out just a little bit later to make sure we aren’t missing out on anything happening around campus. I have heard many horror stories of Red Bull-fueled all-nighters and 36-hour study sessions followed sleeping through class the next day. We put ourselves in danger by lowering our alertness, all because we want to make sure that we live life to the fullest, do the best that we can, and most importantly, don’t slow down for even a second.

It is important, though, that we remember what we already know about being our best selves. We need our sleep. And we need enough of it. Sleep will help us to be the kinds of students and friends we want to be. It is imperative that we place our health first and make ourselves a priority. In this busy and hectic time of the semester, I hope to see far fewer faces scrambling to finish work in the library and many more pajamas in the dining hall.

So Smithies, don’t be afraid to hit the hay as hard as you hit the books in these final weeks before spring break. Don’t worry; your grades and your friends will thank you.