How to Smother the Thief in the Night
Studies have shown that insufficient sleep decreases mental capacity, so hit the hay already.
By Daniel Nguyen, Wharton County Junior College
Going to sleep allows the body to relax and the brain to recover from a hyperactive day.
Stimulants are brushed away and throughout the course of a night you get a new slate. Most people naturally know that the practice is essential for a healthy body and mind. So why do so many college students skimp on sleep?
In the fast-paced world of technologically assisted productivity, the many tools (e.g. apps, laptops/smartphones) available for increased productivity has created a culture that celebrates the sloughing off of necessary sleep for speciously productive over time. But, in her 2016 book on the nation’s current sleep crisis, “The Sleep Revolution,” Arianna Huffington—yes that Huffington—explicates that sleep deprived workers contribute to an estimated $63 billion loss of annual U.S. revenue as a result of absenteeism.
Finding time to set aside for sleeping can be harder today for people leading incredibly demanding lives, such college students balancing work and study, working parents balancing jobs and family, and professionals living in a constantly pressure-driven environment. Would turning away from the computer screen be a good idea for people struggling to pull off a laudable standard of productivity and physicality? The effects of good sleep say yes.
Sleeping the recommended amount of hours each night can be relaxing for reasons completely understandable by anyone. Everyone knows the feeling of kicking back and stretching out in a fluffy comforter in the middle of the night after another day of just living. While sleep can be be seen as wasteful, the mind utilizes this time to recharge and ready itself for a new day.
Living, with all its unique stresses and unexpected complications, draws extensively from our mind power.
Although most people see sleep as a way to reactivate the body and get it ready for another workday, sleep is also a large red reset button for the mind as well. Keeping it inside the confines of functionality, sleep acts as a herder for the mind’s splaying ideas and leaking trains of thoughts that feature frequently in the lethargic minutes before the sleep cycle begins proper.
Known as hypnagogia, the drowsy state of semi-sleep can be recognized quite frequently on the faces of beleaguered college students in the midst of finals week. So the next time you see a fellow classmate face fall flat in an expression akin to a member of the walking dead, just know that they’re taking a little time to heal their upper gears.
Living in a white-collared workspace can put the drain on those working in a predominantly sedentary office space. Sitting in lecture halls and studying at a desk all promote a physical lethargy that sleeping helps with. By replenishing the body’s natural energy reserves, a good night’s sleep can do wonders in promoting working body clarity and concentration. While the majority of people require 8-10 hours of sleep nightly, the time set aside for this important process is often truncated in favor of the more productive few minutes in between wakefulness and sleep. Once again, the recovering period needed to implement the most successful sleeping strategy omits the average college student’s consistent habit of trading sleep for extra time.
Whether a working professional or overburdened student, the circadian rhythm of the body signals when and for how long sleep should last. Decreasing these naturally set elements of re-energization can disrupt steady workflow and a healthy mind for several days. Luckily there are great apps that can mediate the millennial need to engage in social media without sacrificing the requisite hours needed for a good life.
There’s an app for anything and everything now, and sleep aid is no exception. There are dozens of sleep related apps in the Google app and Apple app store, and the most highly rated ones provide relief from the unrelenting challenges of sleep today.
Twilight offers users the ability to cancel out the blue light that extends wakefulness.
By bathing the screen in a red hue, the app is supposed to reduce the amount of stress on the eyes caused by long-term use of smartphones before sleep.
Twilight also allows you to reduce the brightness of your screen. Screen Dimmer also allows the same function while further reducing screen brightness in the darkest of environments, perfect for middle of the night scrolling and web surfing in a shared dorm room.
Keeping the habit of healthy sleeping can seem impossible in a hectic work life schedule. Adhering to the necessary amount of hours needed can even be interrupted by the stress of daily life.
Bringing the stress of daily life into bed can result in infrequent sleeping patterns and regular wakeups throughout the night. Although not the only factor in disruptive sleep cycles, reducing the stress sometimes inevitable when transitioning from the fast paced whirlpool of life into the tranquil stillness of sleep can lead to a more consistent sleep throughout the night.
Huffington herself practices a nightly ritual that includes chamomile baths, candles, and meditation. Being comfortable in your own body and mind is probably the most important thing though. Despite all the appliances and techniques made abundantly available for sleep sufferers, many people can still find a way to aid their sleep that’s completely idiosyncratic. So finding the special thing for you might be more important than any other type of sleep aid app or nighttime ritual.