Hello once again.
Over the summer holidays, between shifts and seeing friends and other things I have stumbled across another plethora of reasons why rest and, namely, sleep is so important for us. With the summer in mind I was thinking about how we often worry that taking breaks, whether it be to sleep, go on holiday, travel to see a mate etc. can impede or productivity, despite this being completely false- which is very good news, for me at least.
I strongly recommend watching a podcast by Joe Rogan featuring Matthew Walker, sleep specialist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California. (Link to podcast here:). It was certainly a reassuring listen as I am amid a string of long restful sleeps to benefit from as much rest as I can, while I can. For so long we have been attuned to the rhetoric that steely long days and nights of work equal productivity, new opportunities that you would otherwise miss and a kind of stoicism that we dream of achieving.
In fact, new research suggests that more sleep helps benefit emotional regulation, memory, wellbeing, energy levels, alertness and concentration- all vital things if you want to be a decent person at least, and yourself at best, during a hectic week. Another myth that seems to have been unpicked in the podcast is that sleep isn’t like a credit which we can bank and top up on, every night of sleep missed fatigues our bodies, which cannot be reimbursed with an extra nap or lie in. So, it seems an even consistent sleep routine can change the way we behave. To maintain this outlook means being especially mindful during term time, as this is peak opportunity to try and deprive sleep to salvage extra hours to work and to study. This has been proven to be detrimental to our cognitive performance, so much so that after 20 hours of being awake you are as impaired cognitively as you would be if you were legally drunk. Nobody recommends finishing that last important essay, or reading, after a bottle of wine so why commit yourself to doing so totally sleep deprived?
Also, for those who fervently believe that they are one of those individuals that can somehow function on limited hours of rest, Walker claims it is more likely to be struck by lightning than be a dignified member of the ‘sleepless elite’. Admittedly this does pose some difficulties regarding university life when trying to mould a decent social life, attain good grades, attend lectures, try sports/ performing/ other hobbies, and times for good meals but bearing in mind that curbing sleep will make all these tasks seem more unbearable.
This has just been a flavour of what Walker’s insights have to offer regarding what he describes as a ‘sleep deprivation epidemic’ in our modern climate. However, if you’re ever in need of reassurance that respite is not a hindrance to progression then refer back to this podcast. Sleep and self-care are the building blocks toward a resourceful promising day, so enjoy the summer break and restful breaks which will inevitably pave the way toward a more enjoyable term.
Until next time,