Sam Gilbert is a journalism sophomore and Mustang Daily health columnist.
Week five really brings a plethora of emotions. Sure, we’re only five weeks away from the most beautiful season of the year, but we’re also dealing with the ugliest concept known to mankind. Sorry for reminding you, but it’s midterm season.
When I think of the word “midterms,” my mind immediately wanders to coffee, Adderall, stress and the close bond I suddenly have with the No. 1 man in my life: Robert E. Kennedy.
Studying sucks, and it may seem like your biggest problem is the fact that you live at the library more than your apartment. However, there are bigger issues at stake. These problems come from lacking sleep. If you’re anything like me and can’t function without a minimum of six hours, then you know how serious this actually is.
According to About.com, there are numerous factors as to why stress impacts sleep.
By dealing with problems at the end of the day, it is detrimental to sleep to allow these thoughts to run through your mind and keep you awake.
A contributing aspect to overthinking is anxiety. This often occurs when you are worried about what will happen in the future or you become transfixed on discovering solutions.
“It can even disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night, as you transition between sleep stages,” Elizabeth Scott, author of the article, wrote.
Not that this is new information or anything, but the caffeine in coffee actually keeps you awake for a longer amount of time. Ground breaking, I know.
This also goes for those who suddenly increase their intake of study drugs and coincidentally find they haven’t slept in days. No, you’re not crazy — that’s just one of the common side effects of self-medicating.
“Caffeine can actually exacerbate stress levels and significantly affect the amount and quality of sleep you get,” Scott, who has a master’s degree, wrote.
Cortisol is the stress hormone crucial for the fight or flight response.
In case you ironically spent your time sleeping through Biology 111, the fight or flight response is the sudden influx of energy released when you feel stressed or threatened that enables you to respond to the situation.
However, extreme stress tends to trigger immense amounts of cortisol that negatively impacts a healthy, sound sleep.
By setting a schedule that is too busy for one day, suddenly alarms are set earlier and bedtimes are pushed back. In case you’re not catching on, these lead to less sleep.
As we’ve all heard since grade school, in order to do well in school, it is imperative to have a balanced breakfast and a good night’s sleep. However, what’s even more terrifying than getting bad grades from lack of sleep are the other risks involved.
According to a MD-Health article, not getting enough shuteye can lead to death, accidents, health issues, depression, an impact on the learning process, impairment of judgment, damaged skin, weight gain, an impact on sex drive and forgetfulness.
If you ask me, I’d rather get a few more hours of sleep than see any of these possible results in my future.
With regard to stress impacting lack of sleep, I found the components pertaining to the learning process and forgetfulness most interesting.
Sleep is directly associated with the cognitive process. A lack of sleep brings down alertness and the attention span necessary for obtaining new information, as well as the ability to problem solve. The new concepts learned throughout the day are converted into memories at night.
“Even if you manage to learn a significant amount during the day, you will not be able to remember it if you do not get enough sleep to allow your body to store this knowledge in the long-term area in the brain,” the MD-Health article reads.
So, how are we supposed to get enough sleep? According to Prevention.com, there are multiple ways.
If your problem is overthinking or anxiety, the best way is to “write down your woes,” according to a Prevention.com article. If you have something on your mind, write it down and put it away so you don’t have to worry about it until a later time.
I always find when I’m feeling anxious that exercise helps exponentially. The article advises, however, not to work out “within four hours of bedtime.”
If your problem happens to be caffeine intake, then you should cut off drinking coffee by 2 p.m.
If you find yourself overscheduling, it is important to create a sleep schedule and make it a priority to stick to it. Even though studying may seem the most crucial at the moment, sleeping is right up there as well.
On that note, I’m going to go take a nap. Good luck to everyone on midterms and may the odds be ever in your favor.