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Good night's sleep brings health, success

Alex Cooke

Issue date: 3/6/09 Section: Opinion
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Sleep fits into the college lifestyle about as well as a Steelers fan fits into Cleveland society; it doesn't. We all know the importance of sleep, yet when we must choose between studying, going to class, working, playing that new video game, or trying the latest fad involving Jell-O and some body part, sleep tends to be the first thing we push aside. We've all heard the same tired spiel on how important sleep is to both our physical and mental health, but do you really always consider just what an effect it has on your overall performance? Here's a quick rundown on sleep's role in college-specific areas.

Concentration/Retention - If you're so tired that you're devoting most of your energy to staying awake in class, it's pretty obvious that you're not absorbing the material you should be. Your attention span is drastically shortened when you are fatigued. What's far worse, however, is how poor sleep hygiene affects your ability to retain information. Your brain needs sleep to encode the day's information into memory and store it properly for later recall. What does this mean? Cramming all night before a test does you no good. Have you ever had the experience of pulling an all-nighter, only to find yourself unable to recall information you learned only hours before? That's precisely what's at work. It is absolutely crucial that you get proper sleep before an exam. Also, remember that the eight hours between 4 a.m. and noon are not the same hours between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Try to sleep the proper amount at the proper time consistently. You'll also find falling asleep to be much easier when you're consistent.

Health - Being tired doesn't feel good. I'm not offering groundbreaking medical research here, but do you really stop and think about just how much feeling tired affects you? When you feel run down, you lose motivation and energy to perform daily tasks and you compromise your immune system. Knowing that the only thing that spreads through a college campus faster than word of free food is a virus, wouldn't you like to keep your defenses up? Not only does being tired affect your physical health, it makes you grouchy too. Honestly, I notice that my friends are in their best moods when they wake up on Saturdays. Patience and self-control take energy like anything else and when we're tired, we lose the energy to maintain discipline.

Grades - Lastly, lack of sleep tends to kill off what really matter: grades. If you can't concentrate in class, can't retain information, and don't have the motivation to do work, you might as well not even bother in the first place. We tend to think that the force of our sheer willpower will get us through just fine, but willpower can't force us to remember things.

I'm not saying anything new here, but I am aiming to remind us all of some simple but important truths. Sleep is so important to so many things, but it's like changing the oil in our cars; we all need to be reminded once in a while.
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In This Issue

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  • Spartan Spotlight: Phil Keefe
  • Track & Field: Nwanna mastering all trades
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Fun Page

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  • Jumble Answers
  • Sudoku Answers

Opinion

  • Chimp mauling, octomom clog Congressional operations
  • Editorial: Grant selection process needs refinement
  • Good night's sleep brings health, success

Focus

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  • Memoir strays from current popular topics, brings refreshing take to genre
  • Sex and Dating: The benefits of casual sex
  • Spartans of Style: Picking the perfect suit
  • Spring break 2009: a slice of Case students' travel plans
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