Accept the science, rest is more beneficial than those extra hours of cramming

By Shelby Peck | Staff Writer

I think we can agree the sound of our alarm blaring after a late night of studying is not the most pleasant thing in the world. It comes far too quickly and leaves us with a headache and a bad attitude.

Until last semester, I thought the key to being a more successful student was spending as much time as possible reading every inch of my textbooks, no matter how late it was.

Turns out, research completed here at Baylor unveils a different path to your success this semester — sleep.

In 2018, an experiment was conducted in Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory under the direction of Michael Scullin, Ph.D.

The “8-hour Challenge” awarded bonus points to the students who slept eight hours for at least five nights of finals week. Surprisingly, the students who slept the most performed the best on their finals, not including the addition of their bonus points.

Science tells us over and over again that sleep will help us be better students, yet we refuse to listen. We remain convinced that late-night library pushes and an unending caffeine supply will help us succeed.

If we want to start this semester strong, we need to sleep.

Sleep helps us perform better in our classes, and it brings us many health benefits.

According to Health.gov, receiving at least seven hours of sleep a night benefits your immunity, improves your disposition, increases your memory and betters your relationships. Adequate sleep also has beneficial effects in the long-term, including assistance in maintaining your optimal weight and diminishing major risks to your well-being.

I understand we may not have seven or eight hours to sleep every night. It is incredibly difficult as a college student to balance classes, work, community and extracurriculars. Sometimes even finding time to go to the grocery store or get gas is a chore.

There is always work that seems unfinished, and I know I have never felt truly prepared for an exam. I understand the fear that comes from putting down your laptop and shutting your eyes.

A stigma exists amongst college students that “sleep is a sign of laziness”. A sense of victory is adopted after pulling an all-nighter. We feel pride in showing our peers that our calendars are full from 7 a.m. to midnight.

This semester, I am asking for us to change our relationship with sleep. It needs to be a priority in our lives if we want to succeed, not only as students but also as roommates and friends.

Change is a gradual process — your schedule won’t suddenly allow you to sleep eight hours every night. Choose to start somewhere. Try to sleep adequately before a final, and see how you feel. Find two nights a week that you can sleep for seven hours.

Document the differences in your mood, and I am convinced you will see what we’ve been told all of our lives is true. We need to sleep.