All-nighters: why you might actually be torturing yourself

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Every time you don’t get enough sleep, you put your body through a decline in health and wellbeing.

“I didn’t really think sleep was necessary,” my friend Sophie told me before our Biology exam, “if I could do better in this subject by studying more.” And although she did smash her exams with flying colours, (and I’m very proud of her for that), sleeping so little evidently took a toll on her.

A week later she was still recovering.

Sophie was struggling to get back into her usual sleeping habits, resorting to bingeing on cappuccinos with 2 sugars to stay remotely awake, and wandering around the campus in a dazed state.

Sleep is so important. It’s obviously an enormous part of staying healthy, but people never really tell you specifically why.

Remember, only a single day of insufficient sleep made her the epitome of a babbling zombie.

Generally, sleep is thought of being an activity of rest, so that when we wake up we’d feel less groggy and be able to go about our daily routine—it seems so pointless otherwise.

However, being in a death-like state for a few hours doesn’t just help rejuvenate you from being painstakingly tired, it also does a variety of things like repairing the body and releasing cytokines.

Cytokines are tiny cells that fight against any yucky diseases that attempt to invade your precious body. Sleeping strengthens your cytokine army against hordes of evil bacteria and viruses which always plan to take you down. (You can never trust them viruses. Don’t be fooled.)

Imagine what would’ve happened to Sophie’s body if she was left sleep-deprived for 2 days, or even 3.

Well good thing you don’t have to imagine, because science has found that out for you!

Sleeping less than 7 hours a day not only makes you drowsy, but also impairs your decision-making skills, drastically reduces reaction times and is just straight up terrible for your health.

Does that sound remotely familiar?

Yes, sleep deprivation can make you act similarly to being drunk, a study shows.

Basically, being sleep deprived is like chugging a couple of beers every morning and then going straight to uni or work. Are you really expecting yourself to function normally in that state?

And if the majority of us know not to drink and drive, why are we sleep-deprived and driving? Why are we sleep-deprived while doing anything?

It sounds pretty silly doesn’t it?

Still, so many people neglect their sleep- heck, even I do it sometimes. Whether it’s to finish watching the latest Game of Thrones episode or cramming in those last few pages of lecture notes for the exam, we’re all guilty of doing this to ourselves. It’s no secret.

Some of us even pull the odd all-nighter from time to time. You can probably imagine that the consequences of this are just more exaggerated versions of the day-to-day effects of insufficient sleep, right?

However, pulling all-nighters over even a few days is more torturous than you realise.

Sleep deprivation is actually used as an interrogation technique on prisoners. Losing sleep leaves you mentally drained, which makes it harder to lie or even to realise what reality is. Interrogators exploit this, and usually question suspects when they get tired, when all they want to do is to desperately doze off to sleep.

Preventing someone from sleeping for 2 days causes them to be extremely disorientated. At 3 days, it crosses ethical lines because people start to go insane and have hallucinations of things that aren’t really there.

I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty scary stuff.

Although getting poor sleep can never be compared to getting none, you now know that sleep is no joking matter.

So the next time you think sleep can always be compromised for whatever activity you want to do, think again. Sleeping for less than 7 hours on a daily basis will not only have immediate effects, but long term effects on your mental and physical health.

So what can we do to improve our sleep and therefore our health?

  1. If you’re really having trouble going to bed at a reasonable time, try to achieve your goals in tiny steps.

    For example, if your desired bed time is 10pm and you’re currently awake till 2am (doing god knows what), don’t force yourself to make that 4-hour leap to victory. It’ll just make things harder for you!Start by sleeping 30 minutes earlier every 2-3 nights. You could even make it just 10 minutes if 30 is too much. The gradual change in sleep time is more achievable then just promising yourself: “Oh, I’ll just go to sleep at 10pm tomorrow”, trust me.
  2. Try to charge your phone and any other electronical devices away from your bed/outside your room

    Messaging yer S.O. at 2am is cute and all, until you’re required to wake up at 6am in the same day and you feel too exhausted to do so. Charging your phone away from your bed removes the temptation to continue convos AND prevents you from spending over 2 hours on your phone in the morning.
  3. Stop taking naps during the dayNapping is a good fix for when you don’t get enough rest, but can also mess up your sleeping patterns if you do it too often, making it harder for you to fall asleep at night time. Try to sleep in one whole chunk for better quality sleep.

Sleeping does nothing but good for your body! All of your organs will love you for resting your head on a pillow, so consider how drained they become from working overtime and start giving them enough rest.


About the author:

33613875_1993966790635958_3005181530315161600_nAccording to a Facebook post made on her timeline on February 24th, 2018, Nicole Nguyen is a potato. Critics are divided regarding the veracity of this claim, with some arguing instead that she is, in fact, a sweet potato, a fidget spinner, or simply “drunk.” She also loves Lady Gaga, like, a lot. In any case, her identity is a work in progress—when she’s not busy posing as any/all of the above, she is actually a second-year biomedicine student who wants to become a fierce doctor because she’s intelligent, charismatic, fierce, humble and fierce again. 

“And although her potato skills are great, she still has a lot to learn before she’s ready to save anyone. But I believe Nicole can save the world.” 

N.B. authors normally write their own bios, as is evidently not the case here.

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