By Lauren Lewis
Life can be incredibly stressful sometimes, especially for students. We’re subjected to what feels like an endless cycle of presentations, projects, and deadlines. This is enough to turn the most ardent worker into a sleep deprived, coffee addled wreck. But this shouldn’t be the case; too many late nights cramming before essay deadlines, and practising presentations has quite the opposite effect when you’re planning on having a productive day. In fact, missing out on sleep does far more harm than good when it comes to our mental and physical wellbeing. So here are a few reasons why you’d do well to surrender to that early night and catch a few more z’s.
Sleep is your brain’s natural charger
During the day, our brain accumulates toxins that target the part of our brain called the hippocampus – the area responsible for storing new memory. In 2000, a study was executed where both sleep deprived, and well rested individuals were shown a set of images and asked to memorise them. The sleep deprived individuals showed significantly less activity in the hippocampus, and subsequently struggled to retain the same information as those who had given their brains a chance to re-charge. This is an issue if you’re a student who plans on packing all of your revision into the night before your exam, as you’ll likely find yourself struggling to remember even the most basic things!
Sleep boosts your immune function
It’s a fact of life that when we’re feeling good physically, our mental and emotional states also see improvement. Lack of sleep has been found to lead to impairment of our immune systems. Researchers have found that individuals who sleep less than 7 hours per night are almost three times more likely to catch the common cold than those sleeping
8 hours or more. With this in mind, I’m sure that it won’t take much to convince you that there’s nothing worse that suffering a stuffy nose in the middle of an exam, going red in the face as you turn heads blowing into a soggy tissue.
You may live longer
Okay – this one’s for everybody, not just students. But who doesn’t want to live to a ripe old age and get to voice the “Back in my day…” spiel! Many experts have proven time and time again that poor sleeping habits lead to increased chances of developing major health issues, such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart disease; to name a few. By getting just 8 hours of sleep or more per night, you can help to reduce these chances.
Poor sleep affects your diet
People getting inadequate amounts of sleep tend to eat more. This is not just because there are more hours available in the day for you to binge eat, but studies have also found that frequent late nights and early mornings tend to increase your preferences for high-calorie foods. Something that you may live to regret at the end of exam season.
Lack of sleep has been linked to low mood
With an increased awareness of mental health issues in today’s society, it is important that we gather all of the information we can on the subject and make sure that we take care of our own wellbeing. Poor sleep has been known to cause irritability, hostility and feelings of sadness. In a recent study, researches discovered that lack a of sleep can actually desensitize us to feelings of achievement. Participants in the study who were experiencing sleep issues did not report feelings of accomplishment or success after achieving a goal, whereas those who were getting enough sleep reported that they experienced feelings of positivity after reaching their achievements. Although insufficient amounts of sleep cannot cause depression, it has been recognized as a contributing factor.
With this last point in mind, it is important that we ask why we may be suffering from a lack of sleep. Is it simply the stresses of student life, or something deeper? Around 90% of individuals suffering from depression have reported experiencing issues with their quality of sleep. The onset of depression normally occurs between the ages of 18-25; detrimental figures for students. If you think that you may be experiencing feelings of depression, you are not alone, there are plenty of services put in place in place to help ease your symptoms, including helplines, self-help groups, and counselling. Don’t suffer in silence and visit the university’s Student Wellbeing Centre located in Singleton Campus for more information.
Links to mental health contacts
SU Advice & Support Centre
Call: 01792 295 821
Call: 116 123
Swansea University Wellbeing Centre