Who Has Time for Sleep During Finals Week?
Now that classes are over
for the semester and finals have begun, sleep, for many
Smithies, is an all-too-scarce commodity. Julie Colatrella,
the College Relations writing intern, tells why sleep should
be prioritized higher on Smithies' lists.
By Julie Colatrella ’12
no surprise: Smithies don’t get enough sleep. And
now, with term papers and finals insinuating their way into
daily planners, it’s becoming difficult to change that.
of sleep is the number one health issue for students. It
affects everything from energy and metabolism to performance
on tests and athletic performance. In the last 12 months,
one in five Smith students reported that lack of sleep negatively
affected her academic performance.
“Smithies get only slightly less sleep than the average college student,” says
Emily Nagoski, wellness education director, “but because they have higher standards,
the effect on academic performance is disproportionately worse.”
The average person needs seven
to nine hours of sleep, with at least four hours occurring
consecutively, reminds Nagoski. She suggests avoiding sugar,
caffeine, tobacco and alcohol for four hours before bed time.
Additionally, exercising in the morning can help jumpstart
the body’s bio-clock so that you feel more
tired at night.
However, it can be difficult
to adhere to these rules with work piling up at the end of
“Strategic napping can help,” suggests Nagoski. “A sleep cycle is an hour and
a half long, so you can either take a ‘baby nap’ for 30 minutes or go all the
way and nap for one and a half to three hours.” And despite myths to the contrary,
Nagoski suggests that bingeing on sleep on the weekends can be beneficial for
the run-down Smithie.
Pulling all-nighters to accomplish
work, however, is never the answer.
“They’re the worst thing you can do,” explains Nagoski. “Between the hours of
2 and 6 a.m., the work you produce is extremely low quality. If you’re willing
to hand in a low-quality paper, you might as well get it done quickly and get
your rest. Without that sleep, integration of knowledge can’t happen.”
According to Nagoski, being
awake for 19 hours or more equals the impairment of a person
with a .1% blood-alcohol content, “and you wouldn’t go to
an exam drunk,” she adds.
Despite the obvious negative
effects of sleep deprivation, students continue to stay up
late to finish their work.
“I wish I could sleep all the time but I just have so many papers,” says Laura
Clampitt ’13, “but when I don’t sleep I can’t get my work done, so it’s really
a bad cycle.”
Denise Robb ’13. agrees. “I’m stressed out from losing sleep and I’m not functioning
Though polls show that first-year
students get less sleep than older students, they’re not the only ones feeling the pain. “Getting less sleep during finals
week is making me frustrated with everything and I have this doomed feeling with
all my work,” comments Grace Anderson ’12. “When I’m not sleeping, it feels a
little more impossible.”
Finals can be overwhelming,
but practicing bad sleeping habits and pulling all-nighters
to finish work doesn’t help.
“I’ve heard the phrase, ‘Done is better than good,’” says Nagoski, “But if you’re
going to have that attitude, get it done and go to sleep! Why stay up all night
to turn in something crappy?”