Now that break has begun, it’s easy to fall into a different sleep schedule. I know I personally plan on sleeping in quite a bit now to recover from the term (and you should, too!), but I’ve been trying to avoid any drastic changes. Sleep patterns have a major effect on your day to day life, so I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the important facts about sleep, health and productivity.
Try not to dip below seven hours of sleep: In the Huffington Post’s How to Focus, a doctor writes, “If you’re regularly dipping below seven hours, you’re likely cutting into the delta phase, and this can make it difficult to focus when you’re awake.” The “delta phase” is the deepest level of sleep that apparently has the biggest impact on cognitive functions. So basically, it’s pretty important.
Here’s a brief list of why it’s so important (with links to sources):
- “a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently”
- "If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change"
- "After several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two"
- "Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke"
Avoid certain activities before getting into bed: Drinking alcohol or caffeine, exercising, or doing “mentally intense” activities (i.e. studying LSE-style) before bed all have an effect on the quality of sleep you’ll get. It’s best not to do these things right before bed, but to instead relax a bit. You’ll sleep much better, and taking some time off is a great stress-busting technique anyway.
Turn off the lights: Light can confuse your body into thinking it should stay awake longer- delaying sleep (or prolonging it without light in the morning). If you leave some lights on while sleeping, try turning them off for a few nights. You may be able to get a much better night’s sleep without them.
Avoid extreme temperatures and loud noises: This is a bit obvious, because I imagine you’re already pretty aware of what works best for you. But if you’re someone who frequently finds themselves too warm or too cold at night, making an adjustment might be the best plan of action. Little things make a big difference. As for loud noise, that’s pretty hard to avoid in London. If you’re particularly affected, closing windows or purchasing ear plugs might be a good idea.
Here are a few of the resources I used for this blog post. They have some really great information if you’re interested in learning more about the importance of sleep:
Why Is Sleep Important? (NIH)
External Factors that Influence Sleep (Harvard)
Sleep, Learning, and Memory (Harvard)
Importance of Sleep (APA)
How to Focus (Huffington Post)