Sleeping is not an option. It is a necessary human function. So when you brag about not getting enough sleep, you’re not showing what a dedicated student you are. You’re showing how little you prioritize your health, and you’re contributing to a culture that normalizes unhealthy behavior.
A recent study published in Science Magazine suggests that deep sleep might help the brain clear itself of toxins that cause Alzheimer’s disease. “Sleep is essential for both cognition and maintenance of healthy brain function,” researchers stated in the study.
In addition, research conducted by individuals at the University of Warwick in 2010 concluded that short sleep increases the likelihood of premature death. “People who sleep for less than six hours each night were 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who get the recommended 6-8 hours,” the study concluded.
As students, we often find ourselves overwhelmed, sacrificing our social lives and sleep in order to prioritize getting work done. Let’s face it: Finals week and that midterm slump can be brutal, and it’s a struggle to stay balanced. It’s unfair to say every student’s stress is merely the result of poor time management, because often it’s not. There are ridiculous expectations that come with being a student and a working adult, and that isn’t your fault.
But bragging about how you sacrificed your health to finish that one research project at the last minute doesn’t just impact you. It impacts everyone around you.
Imagine you are that person who decided getting sleep was more important than staying up until 3 a.m. to finish a research project. You already feel terrible about not having your project done, and hearing your peers talk about how late they stayed up might make you feel like you’re wrong for valuing your physical needs more than your studies. Yes, maybe you should have started working on the project earlier. But you weren’t the only procrastinator here. Maybe if your sleep-deprived friends had started earlier they wouldn’t have to stay up until 3 a.m. Sometimes finding the time in the day to go to the bathroom, let alone get a head start on homework, can be challenging.
The truth is that we all choose to prioritize different things, and no one choice is always right or wrong. As adults, we get to decide which responsibilities are most important to us. You can be right for staying up late. You can also be right for choosing to sleep instead.
So please, don’t make people feel bad about the choices they make.