Art by Autumn Hardwick
For first-year students at Pepperdine — myself included — college is completely uncharted territory.
I moved to Malibu a little over a month ago, and since then every decision has suddenly become my own. A whole new realm of possibilities and opportunities came my way, and as you could imagine, sleep quickly became quite low on my list of priorities.
I started finding myself wide awake well past midnight, talking to new friends and exploring new places. My schedule consists of 8 a.m. classes four days of the week, which meant I got more than five hours of sleep a night for many consecutive days.
I knew this wasn’t sufficient, but I decided this was better than the FOMO associated with staying in while my friends went out. When I began to notice uncomfortable changes happening in my body and mind, I realized this was unsustainable.
Along with headaches, low energy levels and a decreased attention span, I was irritable and quick-tempered. My mother always encouraged a decent sleep routine back home, and I wondered if the move to college and changes to that schedule had been the reason for my distressing days. I picked up a book by Matthew Walker at Payson Library called “Why We Sleep,” to get to the bottom of this.
I quickly learned how important sleep is to maintain our mental and physical health. “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep,” and “the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life,” Walker wrote.
This book changed my perspective almost immediately. Previously, I thought of sleep as a chore — something I dreaded because it felt unproductive. I could be sleeping, or instead I could be doing something like studying or homework. It turns out the best way to get where I want to go is to regard sleep as a crucial variable in this equation.
The body undergoes various vital processes while we are asleep. The brain processes new memories and information, cells are replenished, and hormones are regulated, according to Healthline. Our bodies are indeed “machines,” that require food, water and sleep to properly function.
It is easy to slip into a pattern of irregular and inefficient sleep. “Hustle Culture” is a term used in present day society that refers to nonstop working, according to PopSugar. While hustle culture can entice young adults by promising a successful life, it can also promote unhealthy habits and be harmful to mental health.
Working hard remains a very important principle in my life, and by no means am I straying from that value. Rather, I have reevaluated my priorities and decided I need to regard sleep higher. A sufficient night’s rest increases my productivity for the following day and ultimately leads me toward a greater quality of life.
As a college student, there may be nights where I must stay up past my usual bedtime to get an assignment done or squeeze one last hour of studying in. Studies have shown even quick 30 minute naps can enhance one’s alertness and enhance task performance, according to WebMd. Naps are also more beneficial to the body, rather than supplementing lack of sleep with artificial energy-givers, such as caffeine, WebMd wrote.
I now look forward to cuddling up in my bed by 10 p.m. with no shame. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the new experiences and new adventures the day will bring.
So, Pepperdine student, Malibu resident, fellow reader, what have you — I encourage you to ensure you’re sleeping tonight. Give your body the necessary break it needs to recharge, and you will wake up the following morning reset and ready to live your best life.
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