I don’t know how other graduate students do in regard to sleep, but I don’t get as much as I would like. Between working two jobs and keeping up on my school work, I don’t always have the time to get my eight hours per night. That is a shame too because I really like to sleep. I know that when I do not sleep well I can’t function as well the next day. I feel groggy, slow, and maybe even a little irritable. So when I came across this article in the NY Times, I could not help but become intrigued.
Researchers studied how people responded to various tasks during a period of two weeks when groups were allowed to sleep four, six, and eight hours per night. As expected, those who did not get their eight hours hardly had any attention lapses and no cognitive declines over the 14 day period. Those in the four and six hour groups declined each day. By the end of the study, those who slept six hours per night were just as impaired as those who were sleep deprived for 24 hours. They were the cognitive equivalent of being legally drunk.
With most Americans getting 6.9 hours of sleep per night, we’re not thinking as clearly as we potentially could be.
In Dr. Hart’s book, The Anxiety Cure, he talks about sleep and tells us that not getting enough of it diminishes our natural tranquilizers. With sleep producing our natural tranquilizers, no wonder we get grumpy after not getting enough sleep.
So what does this have to do with anything? As most you are probably aware of, finals are coming up. If you want to do well, don’t spend the nights before cramming. Relax. Get some sleep. You’ll be glad you did.