We’ve all been there before: that brain fog feeling in Monday morning class when you try to keep it together as your teacher gives a lengthy lecture on the significance of plate tectonics. You attempt to take down notes, but everything, from the drone of your teacher’s voice to his writing on the board, are all a blur.
Teachers, lectures and the weather may change, but if there’s one thing that remains constant, it’s sleep—or the lack of it, in a student’s life.
The drowsiness, frequent yawning and inability to concentrate usually take place in the first hours of class, when the shift from home to school is felt the most.
All students, even the most conscientious ones, experience sleep deprivation at some point in their academic lives.
Its consequences are not to be taken lightly. Not getting enough shuteye impacts our performance in school—it affects our balance, reflexes, creativity and our ability to think straight and retain information.
It also lowers our immune system, increases our appetite, and makes us irritable and prone to accidents.
Here are three simple ways to ensure you get enough sleep:
Think about what you’ve been doing that made you forgo sleep. Stayed up all night playing FIFA on your PS4? Play for an hour tops during weekdays or play only on weekends.
Scrolling through Facebook feeds on your phone till midnight? Turn it off. It sounds difficult, but first steps usually are; things get easier once you start.
Know your priorities
Base the time you turn in for the night on the time you have to get up in the morning. The goal is to have at least eight hours of sleep. So, if you need to be up by 5:30 a.m., make sure you’re in bed by 9:30 the night before.
Now cue the excuses why this can’t be done: I’ve got math homework due the next day! I need to study for my history test! I’ve got a load of projects to accomplish! So many responsibilities, so little time! I can’t possibly sleep that early!
As students, we must distinguish between the things we have to do and the things we want to do. The former is what needs your attention now: finish that homework, read that novel, film that project so you can have more time for the latter. It feels so much better doing what you want, knowing you are done with your responsibilities.
A common notion among students about sleep is that it is done purely for leisure. “I don’t need sleep, sleep is for the weak!” they insist.
This sentiment could not be further from the truth. According to The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep is when our body repairs our heart and blood vessels; it also improves our capacity to learn, and it supports healthy growth and development.
Know your environment
Make your surroundings conducive to catching z’s. Avoid all screens—phones, tablets, laptops, television—an hour before going to bed. If you’re not comfortable with total darkness, make your room dim and play some relaxing music at a low volume.
Other helpful tips include drinking a cup of hot cocoa before bedtime, adjusting your air-conditioner’s thermostat to just the right level of coolness, reading a good book (the paper one, not the e-book) and having a relaxing conversation with a loved one.
Once these become regular habits, you’ll feel much lighter and sharper—proof that sleep isn’t for the weak but for those who want to excel in school and life.