I have always loved sleep. When I was little, I even used to ask my parents if I could go to bed early, because I loved it that much! (I was an odd kid, but that’s beside the point!) My love for sleep has only grown since starting university. Although many people pull all-nighters, staying up late into the night to work on assignments or study for exams, that has never been something I did. I usually get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep every night, and have almost every night of university. Sleep is super important for so many reasons, but I wanted to dig a little deeper and find out exactly why we need it so much.
Benefits of Sleep
We all know how important being active is, especially during stressful times like exam season. But it turns out that sleep may play a vital role in allowing us to achieve these health benefits. When we go to sleep, our body repairs the muscles from our workout session and give us some time to recover so we’re ready for the next day. A proper night’s sleep also allows us to work our hardest and stay motivated during a gym session. When we aren’t well-rested, we aren’t likely to put in the effort we should be for our workouts. Luckily, the relationship goes both ways. Getting in a hard workout may help you sleep better during the night. So, if you’re struggling with getting a quality night’s sleep, maybe try to squeeze in a quick workout!
As I mentioned earlier, the requisite all-nighters and late night study sessions seem to be common, especially among U of T students. But we may want to put away the books and climb into bed if we really want to do well on our exams. Inadequate sleep is associated with declines in cognitive abilities, including memory, which is crucial for success on those finals. Hate to break it to those of you who pull all-nighters, but these students are likely to have lower GPAs. Regular sleep patterns is also important for academic success. If you think that you can just “catch up on sleep” on the weekend, sleeping in until 2 pm, think again. Your body’s internal clock gets confused with irregular sleep and wake times, and this inconsistency can leave you more tired, leading to more irregular sleep times.
Maintaining mental wellbeing in university can be very challenging, but sleep may be a key factor. Sleep disruption can lead to irregular patterns in deep sleep and REM sleep, and this disruption can cause irregularities in neurotransmitter release. This can lead to emotional dysregulation, which may contribute to poorer mental health. Improving sleep overall can lead to improvements in mental health. Mental wellbeing is especially important for university students, so trying to get an adequate night’s sleep may be a step in the right direction.
As you’ve seen, sleep has so many awesome benefits. It can seem really difficult to sacrifice those few extra hours of studying just to go lay in bed, but there are so many reasons why you should. Regular sleeping schedules may help to ensure better sleep quality and may help you be more productive overall. So this exam season, instead of hitting the books at 11 pm, try crawling under the covers.