Published Originally: November 26th, 2019
by Oksanna Shulgach, ATP Student Ambassador
Studying at: University of Roehampton
When you first arrive at Uni, you might be tempted to sacrifice sleep to enjoy the new environments. However, ultimately sleep might just be the aspect of your uni adventure that can help you improve and enjoy your entire experience.
Late Night Chats Over Eight Hours Of Sleep
In these first two and half months of university, I have learned a lot about myself, which I expected, but that has also meant old bad habits have been to the light. On the bright side, they are clear and on the surface which in theory should mean easy to solve, but in reality, it has meant feeding the night owl in me to consistently stay up past 3 am every single night.
I currently live in a flat with 27 other people which also happens to be some fellow night owls and a few cases of insomnia. In the beginning, late-night movies and chats under the stars felt like the dream scenario. I’d take a deep chat about life over eight hours of sleep any day. Now that we are two and a half months in, however, I have realized maybe this whole not sleeping thing isn’t such a good idea in the long run.
An article from Stanford University confirms my theory and according “to experts at Stanford University’s Department for the Diagnosis and Treatment for Sleep Disorders, college students should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night.” I was definitely not even close to getting that.
How Not Sleeping Really Affects You
Initially, I did not feel any effects from getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night rather than the usual 7-8. Everything did seem quite normal and so I thought that perhaps my brain was just finally adjusting to getting less sleep, which was something I was actually hoping for.
Unfortunately, headaches started coming and I could feel my mood shifting much more frequently than it had before. Sleep deprivation was beginning to take its toll. One night, out of curiosity, I pulled out my phone and searched for any information out there on what actually happens to the brain when it is sleep-deprived. As it turns out, the brain not only slows down on its cognitive abilities but also the parts of the brain, like that which controls processing new information, physically begin to shrink (2019, Watson and Cherney). These new facts were a surprise to me and my sleepless friends.
What I Would Do Differently
Now looking back on these past few months, I have realized important distinctions that need to be made. Choosing to be social into the early hours of the morning one night instead of getting a full night’s sleep is part of my college experience. But there must be an emphasis put on every once in a while, it is crucial to have a balance of days where you do get full nights or at least close to full nights of rest during the week. If not, you’ll have a groggy brain that feels like it is full of mush. It is almost a guarantee that your abilities to process information and to even just be a student will be severely lacking.
In conclusion, Sleep is Worth It
When I have thought about University in the past, the social aspect was definitely one of the main parts. It’s just about a balance. Uni is for making friends, perhaps even some that turn out to be lifelong, but it is also about getting an education and a degree but in order to do that proper sleep is a must.
Honestly, I can’t imagine where my life would be right now if it wasn’t for Across the Pond. If you’re unsure about what you want your next steps in life to be, why not try out a new culture, a new city, a new life for even just a little while. You might surprise yourself with what you discover.
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