(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.