By Kenneth Shu
Summer’s over, school’s started, and you’re back on the usual routine of waking up really early to catch the bus, and sleeping really late to finish all your work. I know, it’s very hard.
Like most sane people of our generation, we love our times cozied up in bed with a fluffy pillow on the side and a gentle blanket covering us. It’s part of human nature to want to relax, to want to sleep, but sadly our daily lives may not always permit such luxuries. Unless you’re willing to arrive at school late or give in to the temptation of sleeping really early, your ideal 10 hours long sleep schedule is probably not going to come to fruition anytime soon. I know, this sucks, but instead of giving up entirely and submit to the misery, there are some ways we can make the best out of this unfortunate situation.
For a start, do actually go to sleep eventually. Staying up really late to cram or work is not a justifiable excuse to sacrifice your sanity. According to the National Institute of Health, not getting enough sleep, or not getting any sleep at all for the matter, can have detrimental effects on the human mind on the long-term (Alhola et al, 2007). When you’re asleep, your brain removes excess toxins that have been accumulating throughout the day, your muscles relax and recuperate, and your nervous system restarts to ensure that you get a full start the next morning. Pulling an all-nighter would not only make you feel like a groggy mess the next day but also severely impede your brain function in the long-term. So, whatever you do, do not avoid the call of slumber.
Second, avoid all sources of caffeine and all bright lights beforehand. This should be a no-brainer. Unless you wanna tumble around and count sheep the whole entire evening, this is not recommended.
Third of all, try not to drink too much coffee in general. I know what you’re thinking, and I understand your feeling, we all need our cup of coffee in the morning, but try as hard as you can to just limit your coffee intake to just one cup. According to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, excess consumption of coffee increases melatonin receptors within the brain, which ends up making you drowsier unless an increased dose of caffeine is consumed (Ambrosino, 2014). In short, try limiting yourself to just one cup of coffee every morning, otherwise, you’ll feel even more miserable trying to get up early in the morning.
Lastly, try balancing your sleep schedule to your standard circadian rhythm and REM cycles. The human brain, when asleep, operates in consecutive REM cycles lasting 1.5 hours each. According to the National Sleep Foundation, achieving 4 or more consecutive REM cycles each night is an ideal situation for most individuals. This should theoretically allow your brain to get rested, while also preventing that awful morning laziness that haunts most night owls of our age. So, unless you want to feel miserable each morning, balance your sleep schedule in a sustainable and efficient manner.
Transitioning out of the “summertime slumber” mood is going to take a lot of time and effort. As senior Beverely Chung said, “I’m exhausted and overwhelmed by everything,” It’s gonna be painful, it’s gonna be tiring, and it’s certainly gonna feel like a headache for a long time. But trust me, you’ll eventually adapt to this schedule, and everything is going to be all right… for now."
Alhola, Paula, and Päivi Polo-Kantola. “Sleep Deprivation: Impact on Cognitive Performance.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/.
Ambrosino, Brandon. “Caffeine Use Disorder: It's Real, and It Warrants More Attention.” The Hub, Johns Hopkins University, 7 Feb. 2014, hub.jhu.edu/2014/02/07/caffeine-really-is-a-drug/.
“Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock.” National Sleep Foundation, National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-drive-and-your-body-clock