Sleep schedules as dedicated as regular schedules

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By Emma Goodwin

Some people have the trifecta — Instagram, Twitter and Facebook — others are working through a show on Netflix or maybe you’re one of the few who catches up with The AV Club or gossip magazines. 

No matter what routine you subscribe to, we all have our own bedtime schedules — and frequently, they involve our phone or laptop screens.

In this caffeine-driven paradise called college where Keurigs are almost as ubiquitous as microwaves, it seems like a constant, safe topic of conversation is how little sleep you got the night before. Getting eight hours is a novelty and makes you either a beacon of time management or a sloth. 

In fact, research at Brown University revealed that 73 percent of college students report sleep problems. 

College students are statistically one of the most sleep-deprived populations, even though our rigorous lifestyles make getting adequate amounts of sleep essential. 

Rather than getting used to five hours a night, we should be trying to help our body recover from not-great food and drink choices and too much mental exertion.

The sad fact is, too much of our resting time is taken in the form of social media checks before we go to bed. You lie down at 11:30 and don’t find yourself actually falling asleep until 1 a.m., after a few episodes of Scandal are accounted for.

And while this is something we’ve probably all heard before, those eight hours are crucial, and those screens illuminating our rooms before bed are only hindering our chances at getting them.

Even sitting here as a junior, I can honestly attest to the fact that following a sleep schedule is one of the most difficult things to do in college. 

There are so many variables that factor into it: how much homework you’ll have on a given night, what time your classes start each morning and when you have to wake up, if you go out the night before…the list goes on.

And with all of our coveted technology in addition to these variables, getting any consistent amount of sleep seems to be implausible.

But it’s time we put as much of an effort into our sleep schedules as we do the rest of our schedules. Adding a level of constancy and commitment to when we decide to catch some “Z’s” will leave us infinitely more recharged and prepared for the days and activities to come.

To start to really commit ourselves to the amount of sleep we all desperately need, want and deserve, we have to start making small lifestyle changes. 

For example, sources of light from phones and laptops charging, as well as from alarm clocks, can interfere with your brain’s ability to fully go into “sleep mode.”

This is the same type of idea that makes technology in general so harmful before bed; the light your brain registers can block the hormone melatonin — the sole function of which is to make it easier to fall asleep. 

By turning these things off 30 minutes before we’re looking to go to bed, we can help our brain relax and catch more sleep, as well as better sleep.

Lack of sleep has been shown to negatively affect students’ GPAs, as well. So even though it might seem like staying up all night studying is good for your future tests, it might be hurting your grades instead.

Getting less sleep or getting restless sleep greatly affects the way we function throughout the day and can make it harder to focus in class — or as we’ve all experienced, make it harder to even act human, especially if we haven’t had coffee.

It’s not feasible to continue the hectic lifestyles we try to maintain without giving back to our bodies, as well. But when we start winding down and letting our minds relax, we can get some of the R and R that is essential for surviving college.

Emma is a junior in LAS.

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