Before I came to TAMS I was, to be quite honest, a terrible sleeper. I went to bed around 1 or 2 AM and woke up a short time later around 7 AM for school (sound vaguely familiar?). And then I came to TAMS and promised myself I would get a little more sleep because I would have to study more and should probably be a little more rested. And for the first few weeks I was going to bed around 12 or 1 AM and getting up at 7 AM.
And then, being the obsessed-with-psychology person I am, I tried to find research in the psychology department. After some rejections and general emailing, I ended up in the Sleep Health Research Laboratory (or the Sleep lab as I like to call it). And I turned from a general obsessed-with-psychology to obsessed-with-sleep-psychology (along with other things).
My first few weeks in the lab involved a lot of reading that generally scared me to pieces. After reading a few dozen studies that tell you what losing even 1 hour of sleep can do to your brain, I can promise you’d also probably be at least a little scared.
Sleep is important. I can’t stress that enough. We might not understand everything about it but it is an important physiological event that most, if not all, people do incorrectly and underestimate. As teens, we need 8-10 hours of sleep. And yes, some people generally need less sleep than others, but everyone falls into this category. You might say, “I feel fine after 6 hours of sleep”. And to that my response would be, “That’s because you’ve never known what it’s like to function on 100% of your cognitive ability”. All the days we’ve spent sleeping 5-7 hours has added up and we have never functioned at 100% since then.
We are all sleep deprived (yes, even me). And likely, we will never “catch up” on that sleep because 1 hour of sleep does not translate to 1 hour of extra sleep on the weekend. Sleeping till 12 PM on the weekends (a.k.a. social jet lag) isn’t good for you either and messes with your body’s natural rhythms which makes it harder to sleep the following days. And the best way to try and sleep better and function better is to sleep those 8-10 hours a night (which is hard, but in our case, more is better at the very least).
There are countless sleep deprivation studies that look at cognitive ability and memory after a night without sleep. It’s been said that a night without sleep is alike to being drunk. So, if you would like to take your biology or physics test drunk, then pull an all-nighter.
It’s also important to note that people remember things better after sleeping (so please no all-nighters and energy drinks).
As a fellow TAMS student, I don’t expect people to get 8-10 hours of sleep. Quite frankly, I would almost call it impossible simply due to the number of things we do (oh how I wish for more hours in the day). However, I do want us to take better note of the negative effects that sleep deprivation has on us. TAMS kids love our brains, and not sleeping isn’t taking care of our brains. So, I ask that we all look at our sleep schedules just a little closer and try our best to have better sleep hygiene (just like dental hygiene).
I guarantee that after you start sleeping more you will feel better, do better, and generally better everything. Wouldn’t you like to see how productive you are when you are functioning at 100%?
And if anyone ever wants to know how to sleep a little better please message or come talk to me. I’m always happy to help anyone who wants to improve their sleep.