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(Bite-size Psych is a weekly psy­chology column by sophomore Quin Colhour).

Just sec­ondary to the good, true, and beau­tiful triad at Hillsdale College is the sleep, social life, and grades triad, the balance of which is never quite reached. 

Although experts rec­ommend sleeping seven to eight hours a night and drinking almost four liters of water per day, even Sigma Chis don’t drink that much on a night out. So, how much sleep is actually need? It is true that some indi­viduals need less sleep, but this is attributed to genetic dif­fer­ences that are unal­terable through habituation. 

In order to benefit from sleep, it is imper­ative that stu­dents establish a pattern of healthy sleep rather than simply engaging in large amounts of sleep on certain dates while depriving them­selves on others. 

In a study per­formed on an intro­ductory college chem­istry class the researchers con­cluded that sleep habits accounted for nearly 25% of variance in aca­demic per­for­mance and “there was no relation between sleep mea­sures on the single night before a test and test per­for­mance; instead, sleep duration and quality for the month and the week before a test cor­re­lated with better grades.” 

Cramming is not nec­es­sarily a bad tactic according to this research, but remaining too busy to sleep ade­quately for a longer period is counterproductive. 

For many indi­viduals, lack of sleep cor­re­sponds to periods of extreme stress or strenuous aca­demic demands which are judged to be too time con­suming to allow for stable sleep. 

Such sit­u­a­tions do occur, but research also indi­cates that sleeping less “inter­feres with the function of brain struc­tures critical to cog­nitive processes. The most notably impacted structure is the pre­frontal cortex, which exe­cutes higher brain func­tions including lan­guage, working memory, logical rea­soning, and creativity.”

Emo­tionally tur­bulent moments require rational sta­bility which is facil­i­tated by the pre­frontal cortex and effec­tively reduced by com­pro­mised sleeping patterns. 

While many may think that sac­ri­ficing mental sharpness and social awareness is worth the extra study time decreased sleep allows for, the sac­ri­fices actually take the form of long-term memory deficits. 

A study per­formed in 2013 con­cluded “the offline con­sol­i­dation of memory during sleep rep­re­sents a prin­ciple of long-term memory formation.” 

By neglecting sleeping habits to make mem­ories may cause one to lose some in the process.