As a student myself, I fight a constant battle between getting my work done, studying, maintaining a healthy social life and sleeping. Naturally, we can’t have everything in life, so more often than not it’s my sleep that suffers. Stuck in a constant cycle of sleep depravity and lethargy, I set out to find if my sleeping patterns are affecting more than my under-eye bags.
The aim of this experiment was to see if a change of sleeping habits in a group of students (including myself) affected our productivity throughout the day.
A couple of friends and I decided to try and sleep at 11pm every night no matter the amount of work we had to leave pending for an entire week, while we compared our results with our friends who were not asked to change anything about their sleeping pattern. We kept in touch with each other via social media and discussed any improvements. For a week, we slept at 11pm without any breaks.
At first, we found it extremely hard to fall asleep at 11pm as opposed to 1am or 2am as per our routine. We also had to forego the midday nap that everyone coincidentally needed right after school. This also meant that we were tired and annoyed and couldn’t study properly that day. As we grudgingly settled into our new routine, we were quite surprised to notice how much harder it was to wake up at 7am in the morning after 8 hours of sleep as opposed to 4 or 5.
Perhaps our brains were too happy to be finally getting its share of rest and wanted us to remain in that state for longer. Oh well… This persisted the entire week for some of us, while the rest eventually found it much easier to wake up with each passing day. We also realized that most of us were quite civilized in the morning after a good night’s sleep and managed to say complete sentences to each other rather than angry grunts in the wee hours of the morning. What was more interesting to note was that none of us were quite so tired after school and utilized our customary ‘midday nap time’ to complete our work which would otherwise be taking place after midnight.
After the experiment ended a week later, we all found ourselves sticking to our new and improved schedule as we found more time to socialize and get stuff done. As compared to our sleep deprived friends who were still slaves to the old schedule, we were faring much better and felt healthier. It’s true that the amount if work done by both groups was more or less the same; the difference was that one group was more energetic than the other throughout the day.
Adequate sleep every day is not only beneficial for your mind but also for your heart, weight and other vital organs. During sleep our brain processes all the information that we learn throughout the day by the process of ‘consolidation’ and helps improve our memory. Sleep also affects the quality of your lifestyle and is said to increase the life span of an average human. Inadequate sleep causes the release of inflammatory mediators in the body and is said to be linked to heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and stroke. Sleep helps improve performance in athletes and makes the mind more creative. A healthy sleeping pattern is especially important for people who are on a diet as it makes your metabolism fast and helps you shed weight and reduces stress. A lack of sleep in young children can make them hyperactive and develop ADHD like symptoms.
So for everyone out there trying to crash a week’s worth of studies in a night or trying to meet deadlines, take a breather, give your brain and body a break. Maybe you sacrificing your sleep is the reason why you are unable to use your full capability to learn.