Sleep hard to come by in the typical college life

Sleep. If I were to conduct a survey, asking Vassar students—or any college student for that matter—what they don’t get enough of, it would probably be sleep. In fact, when students are asked what they look forward to most when an extended break approaches, it’s not reuniting with their family and friends—It is sleep and other forms of relaxation. A common response you’d hear is, “I’m going to be so happy to do absolutely nothing for a whole month.”

With classes, extracurricular activities, and homework, it seems impossible to find time for a good snooze. We have events to attend, lectures to learn from, and social gatherings to crash. Only those who are either lazy or incredibly efficient can afford to sleep or unwind.

When we were young, we had naptime, recess, and lunch break. As we got older, naptime was omitted and recess soon followed suit. A time dedicated to eating lunch was also taken from us as we entered college—now we hardly even have time to breathe, let alone sleep or relax.

Since when has sleep—something so crucial that it was incorporated into our school day—become such a luxury that many people sacrifice it?

And we usually sacrifice it for something of little to no educational value. Why don’t you get enough rest? Most would vehemently respond with, “I simply don’t have the time.” Yet as college students with a seemingly endless list of to-do’s, we spend many hours a day on Facebook, Twitter, BuzzFeed, Tumblr, and other social media sites.

Instead of working on projects and homework assignments on weekends so the week is not as hectic, many students would much rather party or participate in social events. These preferences aren’t meant to be stigmatized, but they are grounded in observational truth. And of course, these events may be seen as a method of relaxation, but it cannot beat the benefits of sleep.

So why do we so easily put off sleep just to scroll through our News Feed at night? The everyday individual is well aware that sleep is indeed not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Proper sleep is vital to the efficiency of our daily functions as well as the consolidation of memories.

There have been studies that show nurses who work during the night and consistently don’t get enough sleep are at risk of having a shorter average lifespan.

A slew of negative side effects, like irritability, inability to multitask, and impaired memory, are associated with not getting enough sleep. The irony is that we blame our scholastic endeavors on our lack of sleep yet our lack of sleep will only make it more difficult to finish those endeavors at a reasonable hour.

One reason we may not value sleep as much as we should is because of the economic and psychological notion of “time inconsistency”. We value instant gratification over future benefits. Would you rather discover the 23 reasons your parents are basically giant children on BuzzFeed or not run the risk of feeling sluggish the next day? Most would end up finding out just how immature parents can be.

Another reason could be because, as a social norm, we simply don’t emphasize the need to sleep. Sure, the experts do, but the media—the source of information we follow more—doesn’t. Fun is focused around late-night activities; studying reaches its epitome with pulling all-nighters; and people from around the world flock to “the city that never sleeps”.

Whatever the reason may be for our devaluing of something so fundamental, the bottom line is that we DO have the time to sleep, we just choose not to. I personally know individuals to get plenty of sleep and still fulfill their obligations. In fact, they are more productive and are more involved than most of the people I know.

Perhaps if we reordered our priorities to put down our books, phones, computers, and expansive To-Do lists for the sake of a little more shut-eye, we would actually be helping our future selves in being more efficient and happy individuals.

 

—Angela Della Croce ‘15 is an Economics major. She is Opinions Editor of The Miscellany News.

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