College students spend big bucks to acquire an exclusive set of knowledge that will eventually elevate them in society. Meanwhile, cats, senior citizens and babies don’t spend a single penny on commonsense something college students either take for granted or simply categorize as wishful thinking. But when I see my cat, Domino, sleeping one minute and then leaping toward the ceiling to catch a housefly the next, I can’t help but think that he is on to something that most college students continue to ignore: sleep.
We don’t need to enroll into Methods of Inquiry (CAS 142) to know that sleep is important.But as college students, we believe that we have too many tasks and priorities to make room for sleep. Yet, psychiatric studies have consistently proven that sleep deprivation is the root of all evil. Not only does it affect our mood and make us more prone to injury, but it also alters our cognitive performance. Thus, the seemingly inevitable all-nighter is rather counter intuitive. Just try playing chess with a well-rested peer after you spent the night typing a research paper that you could’ve started weeks prior.
That brings us to the largest conundrum of poor college sleeping habit history: the idea that we have too many priorities to fit in the standard eight-hours-a-night sleep. For this paradox, I will revert back to the most useful lesson, and perhaps the only, that I learned from CAS 142. Try writing down everything that you do and the amount of time you dedicate for each activity. Try listing and recording your activities two weeks before a paper or exam date, and then review it the day after. My guess is that you’ll find a ton of your priorities dedicated to phenomenal television shows like ‘Lost,” or watching reruns of your favorite ’90s show on Youtube. Our lives are running on a budget we need to cut unnecessary spending and allocate time where it matters most. Writing things down is the first step to truly deciphering what’s a priority and what’s a cultic compulsion.
Finding time for sleep isn’t as easily solved as writing an activities log. Suppose you’re a newspaper editor or a Reserved Officers Training Core student sleep just doesn’t come easy.
In that case, the best way to avoid sleep deprivation is by optimizing your sleep.
According to the American Board of Sleep Medicine, the best way to get the most out of our sleep is to take in adequate and clean air while we’re sleeping.
If you sleep on your face, you’re already setting yourself up for an imperfect night.
Sleeping on your face leads to disrupted nocturnal breathing, which causes our bodies to wake up early and less energized in order to gain the oxygen that we could’ve gotten from lying on our backs. Sleep doctors suggest that we lie on our backs with a pillow under our knees to get the most oxygen and best posture out of our sleep.
But what’s the use of inhaling more air if it’s unclean? For this, sleep doctors advise us to refrain from cleaning and/or disinfecting our rooms in the evening. Try cleaning your room in the morning to avoid lingering chemicals and dust particles that can penetrate your peaceful slumber. Similar effects come from fresh paint and flowers both can irritate the skin, lungs and throat, and cause allergic reactions. If you cannot contain your love for flowers, try a low-fragrance plant.
Obviously, the best way to avoid any of these problems is to plan carefully and not spread yourself too thin. Sleep is quintessential to success. Just ask my Domino how he feels when he’s able to catch the pestering housefly on his first leap.
Nathaniel is a member of the class of 2011.