Sleep, glorious sleep. I remember just a few years ago I didn’t respect sleep enough. When I came up to college, I thought I could survive by sleeping only four to six hours each evening. I was obviously mistaken.
It started small. I was always tired — something I was used to. But then my grades began to slip a little. Suddenly, not only was I struggling to finish all of my homework, but I was struggling to make it to class, find the energy to socialize and even get out of bed. This became my reality. I was just tired, yet I still wasn’t letting myself sleep as much as I needed to. I couldn’t sleep because if I went to bed, my homework wouldn’t get done and I would start to slip in my classes. About a year and a half ago, however, I was forced to make time for sleep.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and one of the best ways for me personally to manage my symptoms was a consistent sleep schedule. One of the first major difficulties was, of course, my phone and laptop. I do not consider myself addicted to my phone, but before I would go to bed I would double-check Facebook and other social media sites. In addition, I would double-check my email and plan out the next day. I overcame this by setting a specific time where I would stop checking my phone and dedicate myself to sleeping.
When I first started, I struggled to be tired while lying in bed. It would be hours before I could finally fall asleep. My mind was too wound up. I would spend hours every night thinking about my day and all of the things I should have done and needed to do the next day. My solution to this was and still is, imagining a broom sweeping all of my thoughts away, putting them out of sight until the morning.
These things worked for me. I was able to start getting a consistent eight hours of sleep every night. This resulted in me being better able to handle homework, as I was less sleepy when doing it. I paid better attention in classes because I was not focusing on planning a nap, or thinking about how exhausted I was.
I have been struggling with my illness for a long time, and it only got worse because I wasn’t sleeping well. Even people who don’t have mental illness can have poor side effects from not getting enough sleep.
According to a study done by Shelley D Hershner and Ronald D Chervin, 70 percent of college students get insufficient sleep, and 80 percent of them list sleep as the second biggest detriment to their GPA, only beaten by stress. The lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on learning ability and, as a result, the GPA of students.
In a study done by Ana Ligia D. Medeiros, students who received eight to nine hours of sleep had an average GPA of 3.24. The students who received less then six hours had an average GPA of 2.74.
The simple fact of the matter is that, until recently, I like many other students undervalued sleep. It is an essential part of being healthy and successful in school. It keeps us sharp and keeps us sane. I know it does for me.