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Column: The argument for sleep in finals week

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Alex McIntyre | The Daily Wildcat

Paloma Colacion, an architecture sophomore, falls asleep next to her computer on Thursday, April 28. 

Finals are right around the corner, so it’s more important than ever to prioritize sleep to improve focus and get the desired results at the end of the semester.

College is a busy time for students. Some must deal with a delicate balance between academics, work, independent living and an active social scene. It’s no surprise that students sacrifice sleep to compensate for their hectic lives.

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But being a successful college student means performing at 100 percent in most aspects of your life, and students can’t do this while sleep deprived. According to the National Institute of Health, young adults aged 18 to 25 are recommended to have 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. The average college student receives 6 to 6.9 hours of sleep (https://www.uhs.uga.edu/sleep) per night, according to a study from the University of Georgia. Not sleeping the recommended amount every night leads to sleep deficit, and the only way to make up for the deficit is to gain extra sleep.

Not getting enough sleep can become a detriment to learning and other responsibilities. In a publication from Notre Dame (https://www.notredamecollege.edu/sites/default/fileuploads/collegestudentsandsleep.pdf), lack of sleep can cause stress, lack of energy, weakened immune system and difficulty retaining new information, among other symptoms.

Having lacked sleep more times than I’d like to recall this semester, it becomes exponentially more difficult to focus during 75-minute lectures when you’re fighting your body’s desire to catch up on sleep. Suddenly, concepts get jumbled together and it reflects on my quiz grades.

It should be very important for students to buckle down and focus on their studies to get the best possible grades on their transcript. If you catch yourself dozing off in class instead of paying close attention and focusing on completing the last stretch, it’s a good indicator to take a step back and start prioritizing better time management to better fit sleep into the schedule.

I think they can improve their sleeping habits by sticking to a daily schedule. It’s best for students to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This might mean allocating time to sleep instead of social activities.

It’s okay to have a “cheat day” occasionally. Being sleep deficient for one night, in my experience, is much easier to catch up on than to be deficient for consecutive nights.

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If social activities are too important to give up, then it might be wise to consider at least giving it up during the last few weeks to focus for finals. If going out late at night and not receiving sleep is your fancy, then go ahead. However, I would try to limit that to the first three quarters of the semester.

If sleeping efficiently is a hard habit to get into, one thing I find helpful for myself is shutting off technology about an hour before sleep. Feel free to relax by listening to music, because de-stressing yourself before bed is important for good sleep. Turn off artificial light to decrease the chances of being woken up during the night.

With finals right around the corner, staying focused in studies takes on a bigger importance. By receiving adequate and good-quality sleep, one can optimize their performance for studies. One can achieve this by properly balancing and managing time. While one might sacrifice social time by allocating it to sleep, the benefits gained from it will outweigh the sacrifice. Who doesn’t like sleep anyways? There’s definitely nothing more refreshing than waking up, renewed, from a full night’s sleep ready to bear down on the next day’s challenges.


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