To Sleep or to Keep Shortchanging your Health

Sleep deprivation will kill you more quickly than food deprivation

Student and Sleep. Two words you don’t often meet in a sentence. And honestly, I’m going to feel like an hypocrite by the time I’m done with this article. But my chief has given me a deadline and that is why I’m writing this.

We deprive ourselves of much needed sleep because of a number of things. Academic pressure. Fear of failure. And to make ends meet.

Oftentimes, it’s not our fault. The system doesn’t encourage rest. You’re a medical student who leaves your hostel at 7 and won’t be back until 6 in the evening. The little time you have at night is all you got to go over the things you learnt and prepare for the next day. And you must prepare for the next day. If you’re unlucky, your weekends get taken away from you as well. Poor you.

Either ways, you have to find a balance

Your health or academic success? Your health or your means of livelihood?

A lot of students have found their way of balancing all these. A little compromise here and there.

As the demands in our lives rise, sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice. (Healthy eating too, but that’s an article for another day.)

An exam next week, sleep time reduces. A project deadline coming up, we begin to take psychostimulants to stay awake. When my chief told me to submit this article ‘on or before Saturday’, I needed to pull an all-nighter to meet her deadline. We believe we can get a lot more done if we tone down our sleep. Research suggests otherwise. Even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity.

Many of the effects of sleep deprivation we suffer are invisible to us. Insufficient sleep, for instance, strongly imparts our ability to consolidate and stabilize learning that occurs during the day. In other words, it wreaks havoc on our memory.

Student and Memory; now that’s two words you frequently find in a sentence. And you definitely need your memory as a student.

So next time you contemplate what to sacrifice in your search for balance, think twice before hopping for sleep. Think about how sleep deprivation results in disrupted cognitive function, memory, and overall well-being. Think about diminished mental performance. Physical health issues. Disrupted circadian rhythm. Increased stress and anxiety.

The long and short of the whole matter is that while occasional late-night studying may have some short-term benefits, it is crucial that we prioritize a balanced and consistent sleep schedule to ensure optimal physical and mental health in the long run. Unless you want to end up like me—my circadian rhythm is messed up, my mental health is in the mud and I walk around like some half-awake-half-asleep zombie who is always tired. Trust me when I say this, you don’t want to end up like that.

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