Students Should Stop Romanticizing Sleep Deprivation

I’m tired and it’s not okay

Sleep deprivation should not be romanticized. (Flickr/vic xia)

A study published last year by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) shows that the best way to maximize performance on final exams is to study and get a good night’s sleep.

For students entering their midterm exam season, it can be difficult to identify if your classmates are suffering from exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Make sure to check in on your friends who seem distant or exhibit a change in their regular personality to ensure that they’re okay. As students, we need to stop romanticizing sleep deprivation and start taking care of ourselves and our tired friends.

I’ve never experienced sleep problems until this semester, and the closer and closer midterms got, the more trouble I had focusing and falling asleep. This sleep deprivation led to increased anxiety and depression, as well as difficulty retaining the information that I’d just spent hours studying. I got to such a point of desperation that I contacted my family doctor for medication.

Walking around the halls at KPU, you’ll often hear remarks like, “I only got three hours of sleep last night,” or “You slept? This is my second all-nighter.” Comments like these are even more common in the weeks leading up to midterms and final exams, but school work alone is not to blame for students’ lack of sleep.

According to the AASM, “Among the reasons for these changes in sleeping patterns are increased part-time working hours, pulling all-nighters to finish a paper or cram for an exam, and watching television at bedtime.”

Turning your brain off after feeding it full of information can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to ensure you make it through exam season with sufficient sleep and time to study. The following tips are provided by the AASM to help students get the most out of their sleep:

Go to bed early. Adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble falling asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Stay out of bed unless you’re resting. Don’t study, read, watch TV or talk on the phone in bed. Only use your bed for sleep. Limit naps and wake up at a reasonable time on the weekend. According to the AASM, it’s best to go to bed and wake up at the same times on the weekend as you do during the school week.

You’ll also want to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and at night. It stays in your system for hours and can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

Dim the lights in the evening and at night so your body knows it will soon be time to sleep. Let in the sunlight in the morning to boost your alertness. Take some time to “wind down” before going to bed. Get away from the computer, turn off your TV and cell phone, and relax quietly for 15 to 30 minutes. Eat a little, but never a large meal right before bed. Enjoy a healthy snack or light dessert so you don’t go to bed hungry.

I was losing precious hours of sleep due to mental health issues, which ultimately led to fighting more with my partner, a loss in appetite, and persistent depression and paranoia. Unfortunately, sleep is not always something you can “catch up on.” It is a habit you build and maintain throughout the semester.


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