by Nerissa Kresge
“I have to get eight hours of sleep or I can’t function,” a student complained to her friend at the Mind and Hearth Coffee House.
This student is aware of how important sleep is to everyday life, but with finals right around the corner, many students forget how important sleep is to their overall ability to function. Why sleep when there still are five chapters left to read? What about that important 15-page paper due in the morning?
Dr. Noel Wescombe, associate professor of psychology at Whitworth, is currently researching the sleep patterns of Whitworth’s students and said he has discovered that close to 60 percent of the students studied are not getting an adequate amount of sleep.
“[These] students tend to go to bed around midnight and yet they’re getting up at 7:30 to go do their activities,” Wescombe said. “They’re in a kind of sleep deprivation.”
Wescombe said there are three major selling points for a good night’s sleep: one’s ability to focus, mood and health.
Sleep is directly tied to how well one is able to focus, he said. Focusing during class becomes difficult for some when sleep has been compromised.
“I start to doze off in class and it seems to go by longer,” sophomore Tanner Tyson said.
Cramming instead of sleeping does not always have beneficial results.
“If your test requires you to write an essay, get some sleep,” Wescombe said
Writing quality essays require high functioning brains and a lack of sleep hinders one’s ability.
A person’s mood is directly tied to sleep. More sleep might just make it easier to control one’s mood swings and have a happier disposition, Wescombe said.
Wanting to lose weight? Get some sleep. Wescombe said recent studies have shown significant correlations between sleep and one’s health, including weight loss. Sleep deprivation sets the body into a pre-diabetic state and hinders the body’s ability to regulate its metabolism.
Additionally, Dr. Michael Rempe, associate professor of mathematics and computer science at Whitworth, who specializes in diverse neural systems and sleep said several studies have recently shown a link between a lack of sleep and chronic illnesses.
Not getting enough sleep can have a severe, lasting effect on a person. So what can be done? Sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that late adolescents attain a total of nine hours and 15 minutes of sleep at night.
Of the 50 Whitworth students surveyed last week for this article, only one person said he or she slept nine hours a night. Out of 50 students, only 20 said they average around seven hours of sleep a night. That means, every night, students are losing two hours and 15 minutes of necessary sleep.
One method of playing catch up comes in the form of the weekend.
“I’ll crash after three weeks [of not sleeping enough] and sleep for 12 hours,” senior Solomon Walden said.
Another way to fight sleep deprivation and all of the negatives it brings is napping.
“We tend to look down on naps but they are helpful,” Wescombe said.
Naps are so helpful in fact that Dr. Sara Mednick, assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of California, Riverside has written a book entitled “Take a Nap! Change Your Life.”
In chapter three of Mednick’s book, she outlines the top 20 reasons one should take a nap, including: increased alertness, reduced stress, creativity boost, weight loss, “preserve your youthful looks” and ultimately, “it feels good.”
It might also be helpful to know one’s sleep pattern. Wescombe described the two types of sleepers in terms of larks and owls.
“If you tend to be more of a lark, it’s better to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier,” Wescombe said. “If you’re more of an owl, you tend to be able to go to sleep later and get up later.”
While everyone is different and it is possible for some to function on less sleep, why take the chance? Especially during finals, whether a lark or an owl, make sure to schedule in a couple extra hours of sleep.
Contact Nerissa Kresge at email@example.com.