It’s midterms week and you may be feeling the pinch of multiple important deadlines. Perhaps you’re tempted to power through with less sleep and extra-long study sessions. But your health, energy level, and mood may take a hit. Is it worth it? Ultimately, the choice is yours. This week, I ask you to consider a different path toward the academic finish line.
Sleep is one of those sometimes underrated lifestyle habits which deserves some love and attention. Taking good care of yourself, including getting a decent night’s rest, will actually help you feel and do your best. Check this out! You don’t need to be sleep deprived in order to succeed at Princeton.
Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.
It’s 100% OK to stop doing other things to get the sleep you need.
The effects of sleep deprivation:
While it may seem like losing sleep isn't such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go beyond daytime drowsiness.
The effects include:
• Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
• Moodiness and irritability; increased risk of depression
• Impaired brain activity; learning, concentration, and memory problems
• Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills; difficulty making decisions
• Inability to cope with stress; difficulty managing emotions
• Weakened immune system; frequent colds and infections
So, how much sleep do you need?
While sleep requirements vary from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. How much sleep do YOU need? If you usually wake up only with your alarm, your body is telling you something—you need more sleep! Just imagine what your health would be like if every meal ended when a buzzer went off, even if you were only part way through a modest portion of food.
You are in college now, and you are responsible for deciding when to wake up or go to bed. In my experience, students who make sleep a priority and schedule it, just like other important activities on their "to-do list," are happier and healthier. Please know, my dear Moose, that you don’t have to sacrifice your wellbeing for academic success! Sleep isn’t the thing you do only after everything else is done. It’s 100% OK to stop doing other things to get the sleep you need.
Read this far? Keep reading to uncover information about a gear giveaway!
How to get the sleep that you need:
Improve your sleep environment. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, and reserve your bed for just sleeping.
Be smart about what you eat and drink. Caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep, as can eating heavy meals or drinking lots of fluids too close to bedtime.
Get help with stress management. If the stress of managing school and your social life is keeping you awake at night, learning to handle stress better can help your sleep.
Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid screens, work, and stressful conversations late at night. Instead, wind down and calm your mind by taking a warm shower, reading by a lower light, or practicing a relaxation technique to prepare for sleep. Some devices have a nighttime mode for their screens with warmer, less blue, light.
Consider these additional suggestions for improving your sleep or rest routine:
Lights out before midnight.
Netflix & chill. For real, though. Put on your favorite show or movie and relax.
Meet with Darleny, the Director of Student Life, or talk to CPS about anxieties and chronic sleep issues.
Outer order brings inner peace. Do your laundry or organize your room.
What if you want to sleep, but still can’t?
When falling asleep or staying asleep is tough, even when you make the time for it, you may have insomnia. Occasional sleep disturbance is normal, but if you’re having trouble at least three nights per week for three months or longer then it may be time to ask for extra help. If sleep issues are negatively affecting your quality of life, please reach out to your RCA or make an appointment with University Health Services.
Gear Alert! Hurray, you’re awake enough to read through this correspondence in its entirety. For Moose interested in cozy and stylish slumber, I invite you to come to the Mathey Relaxation Station on Thursday, October 14, at 12:30pm, to pick up your very own Mathey inspired pillowcase. Also available, a limited supply sleep masks. You deserve to sleep in style!
The university is here to support you. For help with studying, writing or time management:
The Writing Center:
50-minute In-Person Appointments: Sign up for an appointment today!
50-minute Drop-In Appointments.
On-going Writing Partnerships: Pair up with an experienced Fellow for a standing weekly appointment. If you’re interested, write to Dr. Creedon (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Stress and difficult emotions are better managed with the support of others. Consider these group activities for emotional wellbeing:
Women’s Meditation Group - This guided meditation for all undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff who identify as women, meets at 12pm the second Tuesday of each month at Murray-Dodge 104. The next one is tomorrow October 12th. Email Dean Alison Boden with questions.
P.S. Want to read more about sleep? Check these out:
http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters (or the whole site http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/ or the section on sleep, learning and memory (http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory)