Sleep is just one of those things that you start to appreciate more, yet have less of every day as pre-med students, or just as students in general. Generally speaking, most people know the usual idea. Get at least 9 hours of sleep a day if possible. This is great and all, but speaking from personal experience, I usually find myself getting as little as 6 hours, or even not at all during the days. The backlash to sleeping this late usually led to me crashing during other days, sleeping for 10 hours. All these failed sleeping patterns got me into researching a bit more about them.
Some quick tips about sleeping that might help out before I dive deeper into just what sleeping is all about. First and foremost, form good sleeping routine, something you can stick to every day and still do everything you want to for the day. The reason for this is because
- The body takes time to adjust to different sleep schedules, that’s why it is so hard to sleep after going to a different time zone for most people.
- Crashing 14+ hours on a Saturday is not the equivalent of making up for 5 hours a sleep during the week, try spacing out that make-up over the next week rather than cram it into one day.
Now with that in mind, let’s get a bit more into the logistics of sleep. When we sleep, we have two different types of sleeping, the first one is usually the first 90 minutes of going to bed known as NON-REM sleep, or non-rapid-eye-movement sleep. NON-REM has 3 stages, stage 1 is where your eyes and muscles slow down, and you are still semi-alert. Stage 2 at 25 minutes in around is where your eyes stop moving, body temperature depresses, and heart rate slows down. Stage 3 is where you start to enter the deep sleep, and now blood flow is directed towards your muscles to restore your vitality while your brain relaxes. After being in bed for about 90 minutes, generally we enter REM sleep, known as dream sleep because ye know, dreams. Here is where your eyes move rapidly underneath your eyelids, you breathe less, and your arms and legs are paralyzed, stopping you from reenacting whatever crazy dreams you are having.
REM sleep is very important, it is where your brain can process all the information you’ve learned, and also replenish your body’s supply of chemicals that help you out throughout the day. So basically, sleep enough so that your body can enter a decently long period of REM sleep for tomorrow.
I wanted to talk about all this because I think everyone, regardless of whatever we are studying or whatever tests we have coming up, need to try and get a decent night’s rest. So the next time you choose to stay up, because of studying a upcoming test, reading a fantastic book, or just playing games, try instead to just take a good night’s rest. You’ve always got time tomorrow for it anyhow. I will give a shot at it, and come back to you guys in a future article about how it worked out for me.