Sleep is NOT for the weak!

What time do you usually go to bed? 9 p.m.? 3 a.m.? Somewhere in between?

With the stress at SAS, many of us find it incredibly hard to squeeze in even just an extra hour of sleep at night. Some students find themselves falling asleep on the bus or even in class.

How much sleep do SAS students get exactly? Do they usually nap in the day to get by?

Below are the results of a recent survey with the freshmen and senior classes.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 5.58.53 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 4.22.20 pm

According to this survey, most students get about six to eight hours of sleep and do not nap in the day.

However, almost 50 students out of the 234 surveyed reported sleeping only three to five hours a day.

This is alarming because sleep is essential to not only a student’s well-being, but also his or her learning.

Our school psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Devens said, “When you sleep, you’re not being lazy. Sleep has a function. It serves a purpose…Sleep recharges the body system, organizes, categorizes, and sorts out your thoughts, and provides emotional, mental healing. In the long haul, the deprivation of sleep can affect your ability to perform. Some people may spend all night cramming, but that doesn’t work because there’s no retention and they lose 80% of it.”

Even though many of us understand the importance of sleep, a lot of students still have trouble getting enough sleep because of all the school work they must finish.

Senior Elizabeth Zhang said, “I sleep at 2 a.m. and wake up at 6:20 a.m. Freshman year was probably the only year I managed to sleep before 12 a.m. on most days.”

With only four hours of sleep per night, Elizabeth sometimes finds herself napping for two whole hours after school. This doesn’t make it any harder for her to fall asleep at night, since she’s already so exhausted at 2 a.m. However, it definitely messes with her sleep cycle.

“I feel like the fact that I nap almost encourages me to stay up late at night, since I have to catch up on all the work. So it’s like a never-ending cycle. Sleep late, nap, sleep late.”

Humorously, she said, “RIP, sleep!” – meaning sleep is a concept dead to her. But ironically, she gets no “rest” or “peace” in terms of sleep.

Different people have different sleeping patterns. Some students power through the night, while others find it easier to go to bed early and wake up before the sun even comes up to finish their homework or study for a test.

Senior Kavya Vasan is an example of this. She usually sleeps at 10 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m. on weekdays, but when she has to study for a test, she wakes up at 4 or 5 a.m.

She also said, “I usually don’t nap in the day because I’d feel like I’ve wasted a few hours.”

Both SAS students have noted that they feel as though napping does not help with their day-to-day lifestyles. But from my survey with the freshmen and senior class, the majority of students (136 out of 234 people) have said otherwise.

napping helps?

Is this true? Or are naps a complete waste of time?

According to experts, a 10 to 20 minute power nap is beneficial for a quick boost of alertness. For cognitive memory processing, a 60-minute nap is much more helpful, as slow-wave sleep promotes effective memory, such as remembering facts, places, and faces.

So, how long should you nap for?

Here’s the breakdown!

10-20 minutes:

This power nap is perfect for a quick boost in energy and alertness. It limits you to the first few stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, filling you with sudden energy, even right after waking up.

30 minutes:

Studies show that this type of nap causes the feeling of grogginess, making you feel slow and dazed upon waking up. However, this feeling lasts up to only 30 minutes before you start feeling the beneficial effects of napping.

60 minutes:

Likewise, this nap may cause some grogginess after waking up, but it enables slow-wave sleep, ideal for promoting effective memory.

90 minutes:

This allows a full-cycle of sleep, including rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep, in which vivid dreams occur more frequently. It promotes emotional and procedural memory and creativity.

Sometimes it may be better to get up and exercise instead of letting yourself fall asleep if you don’t desperately need a nap. But as long as naps do not interfere with your sleep cycle, such as making it harder for you to fall asleep during your normal bedtime, naps can indeed be beneficial. That means, it is a matter of knowing when to nap and what kind of nap to take.

Dr. Devens noted, “It’s all about setting boundaries. A lot of the students I work with who seem to have sleeping issues are the ones who have no boundaries in the structure of their rooms.”

Creative Commons License.
Creative Commons License.

He clarified, “I don’t believe social media is evil. It’s what we do with it that determines whether it’s good or bad.”

He believes that the real issue is that, “Teenagers are addicted to teenagers. They feel the need to constantly be connected with their friends because of the fear of not being included. Social media has become a form of social currency.”

He added, “This affects their ability to get their work done and the necessary sleep… If students had their internet cut off by 11 p.m. every night, they would probably work around that schedule and be able to sleep early. But a lot of students don’t know how to re-set or do things differently.”

“Life is about balance, not stress. If it becomes the norm, that’s a problem. A lack of sleep increases the risk of depression, eating disorders, self-injury behaviors, and angry outbursts…But we’re not victims of our choices. We get to own the choices that we make and the consequences that come with it.”

If we take in what Dr. Devens has said, sleep is indeed not for the weak. Sleep is for those who are diligent enough to regulate their sleep schedules, no matter how hard it may be for them to manage their time or push aside distractions, such as social media.

Some people may need more sleep than others, but sleep in general is for the wise because we all need to know how to get enough sleep if we want to lead happier and healthier lifestyles.

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