Late-Night Work: How to Maximize Utility Without Sacrificing Health
According to a study performed by the University of Georgia, college students have been reported to have (on average) 5 to 6 hours of sleep. This sleep deprivation results from a sharp increase in workload—more classes, activities, jobs, etc.—and has the potential to wreak havoc on our grades and health.
Why does sleep matter? As many of you might already know, sleep carries a number of benefits, including restoring our energy, strengthening our immune system, helping us think more clearly and creatively, improving our memory, and maintaining a more positive mood throughout the day. As such, sleep is an active, dynamic, and necessary process, vital for optimizing motor and cognitive function.
However, don’t take my words in the wrong way! While we should get more sleep, there are ways to alter our daily schedule that could make sleep loss a little less harmful for health. As a whole, the body needs a certain degree of regularity (i.e., a predictable schedule of food and rest, among other things). Optimizing this is the key to maximizing utility without sacrificing health. Other general tips include:
- Picking a routine that you can stick to. No two days are the same, but finding a routine will allow your body to get a sense for when it should be working most efficiently and when it can rest and rejuvenate.
- Make the most out of power naps. If you have a short period of time (even as little as an hour between classes), you can try to squeeze in a quick power nap to increase alertness and concentration.
- Avoid taking caffeine within 4 hours of sleeping, since caffeine is detrimental to sleep hygiene.
- Avoid taking alcohol as a sedative. One common misperception is that it can help people fall asleep, when it can actually lead to a rebound effect (restlessness immediately after being metabolized).
All in all, it is definitely possible to get your body functioning well without having to resort to health-reducing drugs or stimulants. Keeping a regular schedule, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and taking power naps can aid in efficiency. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that while these will reduce negative health effects, they won’t eliminate them entirely. Healthy habits such as regularly getting at least 7 hours of sleep, eating nutritious foods, and limiting stress will lead to better outcomes. Overall, keep in mind that your body is a machine: it will function only as well as you treat it. If you treat your body well, it will treat you well.
- Study or Sleep? Late-Night Cramming May Lead to Worse Grades from Time Health & Family by Time Inc. <http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/21/study-or-sleep-for-better-grades-students-should-go-to-bed…>
Article by Varun Bahl
Feature Image Source: Lifehack