“Mum, I slept through my final exam.”
Of all the horrors film can provide, and no matter what craziness happened on Friday night at the Hart House of Horrors Halloween Party, this will forever be one of my life’s more terrifying moments.
It was 2009, and after a rough term, I was woefully behind in my studies and tried to cram to the point where I ended up asleep on my bedroom floor. By the time I arrived at the Test and Exam Centre, it was too late.
I admit this is a First World problem, but when university feels like your whole world, one’s perspective gets distorted.
I’m not telling you this to frighten you. My goal is just to impress upon you the importance of sleep.
“But Sarah,” you may say, “finals are more than a month away! Why tell me this now?”
Because, if you’re like me, this time of year is when the rubber hits the road: tests have come and gone with more on the way. Essays and labs are due soon. Not to mention that any extra-curricular obligations still carry on in spite of your heavier workload.
If ever there was a time to consider skipping sleep hours, it’d be now.
We know that feeling well-rested makes us feel better about life in general. Our friends at Harvard tell us that sleep can also help with learning and memory, before and after learning a new task. So sleeping after a study session can help you remember what you learned or reviewed, and make it easier to get more learning done the following day. You also will be less likely to fall asleep in class and more likely to pay attention and take good notes.
But how much is enough? According to the Mayo Clinic, adults (yes, we do fit into that category, as scary an idea as that is) should be getting 7-8 hours a night, but more if we’re sleep deprived, which is probably most of us.
Is napping ok? As long as it’s short (20 – 30 minutes), it shouldn’t interfere with your nighttime sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has some great napping tips and suggestions for improving your nighttime sleep, too.
It’s easy to forgo sleep when deadlines creep closer, but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not worth it. As much as you may think 7 hours of sleep would be better spent studying, you don’t want to end up fast asleep on your floor when you should be acing an exam.
Take it from me – get to sleep before the lack of sleep gets you! You will feel so much better for it.