Self care with Sarah: Effects of sleep deprivation

Self care with Sarah: Effects of sleep deprivation

With busy work and school schedules, pulling an all nighter can seem like the only option on nights that you have a lot of work to do. However, the amount of sleep that you get can impact your body and your brain, especially if those all nighters become a common occurrence. 

Sometimes there is no way to avoid having to stay up late to study or finish assignments because tasks can pile up. However, staying up late or all night can be detrimental to your health and your GPA. According to the Amherst College Campus Mental Health and Wellness Center, getting one or two nights of poor sleep can affect mood, weight, immune system and more. 

In sufficient sleep results in irritability, decreased motivation, and overall mood. If sleep is neglected long term, it can lead to depression, anxiety and increased stress. Having an altered state of mind can make necessary daily tasks much harder, let alone studying or doing tasks required for success in school and work.

Food cravings can also increase due to the fact that your brain is trying to make up for the energy lost from staying awake. Therefore, you are more susceptible to weight gain and above average BMIs. “Inadequate sleep on a regular basis is associated with long term health consequences including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease,” according to Amherst College. 

In addition, a sufficient amount of sleep helps with memory, learning and mental performance. When you are well rested, you have a better ability to focus and retain what you are learning.

Better sleep increases your ability to recall previously and recently learned information which will help with tests, class discussions, and learning in general. In correlation, you will have a higher GPA since studies show that students who do not get an adequate amount sleep had lower grades overall. 

“…and new research shows that sleep and dreaming play an important role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information. Therefore, sleep provides benefit both before and after engaging in a learning activity,” according to Amherst College.

Tips for better sleep:

Schedule a bedtime

Set a time that you will go to sleep at every night and try to keep up with this on the weekend. Make sleep another task on your planner and do not neglect it to do more work. Your body will naturally adapt to this schedule and even start doing it for you after awhile. 

Use your bed for sleeping and relaxing

Try doing your homework at your desk or even in a separate room rather than doing it on your bed at night. If your brain is used to doing homework and exerting energy while you are in your bed, it will be harder for you to fall asleep at night. Your bed will solely be associated with sleep and relaxation and it will ultimately be easier for you to sleep. Amherst College recommends that if you have insomnia, you can get up and leave the room to do other things until you feel tired, then you should return to your bed.

Unwind before bed

Things like showering, meditating, doing breathing exercises, and stretching are all examples of activities that you can engage in to unwind before going to bed. These practices aid in clearing your mind prior to getting in bed. This can help avoid being stuck laying in your bed trying to fall asleep because you are thinking about the day you just had, what is in store for tomorrow, or anything you are worrying about. 

Limit electronic use before bed

According to Amherst College, “TV and video games can be over-stimulating, making it difficult to fall asleep. In addition, the glow from electronic devices can inhibit natural sleep cycles.” Therefore, try to put your phone and other electronic devices away at least a half hour before you go to sleep. Reading is a great alternative to fill the void in your hands and to give your eyes something to look at as it can be hard to not hold onto your phone before bed.

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