Story by: Beth Killen
March is National Bed Month, an awareness event founded by the National Sleep Council and the National Bed Federation, to promote getting a good night’s sleep. So, in honour of it being March, here is why sleep is crucial, especially for students.
Sleep is just as crucial to life as food and water. Teenagers need between 8-10 hours of sleep per night for optimal brain function, improving concentration and memory. There is also a strong link between mental health and sleeping patterns. However, a survey of TBSF students found that over 77% of students get less than 8 hours per night, with 17.7% of students sleeping only 3-5 hours. Shockingly, only 16% of participants slept the recommended 8-10 hours.
When asked why they don’t go to bed earlier, participant responses varied. Some blamed addictions to gaming/technology “Playing PlayStation” and “Because I stay on my phone”, whereas others were too overwhelmed with work: “Extracurriculars, job, homework”,” I have too much stuff to do” .A third common culprit was mental health issues, such as Anxiety about the following day or Insomnia. We all understand the stresses of Sixth Form, but as tempting as it may be to stay up until midnight cramming for tomorrow’s test, an extra hour of sleep may be more beneficial to your grades than late-night revising. If you’re prone to nocturnal homework sessions, try optimising your frees, or finishing work on the bus instead.
Many combat sleep deprivation with coffee, and whilst draining their bank account, its also making the problem worse: caffeine contributes to Insomnia, creating a vicious cycle of dependency which is similar to an addiction. It causes dizziness and headaches, and amplifies Anxiety. If you’re a chronic caffeine consumer who struggles to fall asleep, the coffee might be the culprit.
According to the National Bed Federation, a proper mattress is essential for proper sleep. Mattresses need changing every 7 years, and poor-quality beds can cause sleeplessness or let off toxic fumes, causing illness. In 7 years, it is estimated that you will spend 20,000 hours in bed, so a comfy mattress is a must. In our survey, only 4.5% rated their sleep quality ‘amazing’, with the majority saying it’s ‘okay’. In the lead up to exams, a good night’s sleep is vital, try de-stressing before bed, or investing in a mattress topper if you’re struggling.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, sacrifice some of your late-night study time for an earlier bedtime. An extra hour of sleep will boost your memory, concentration and awareness -crucial for smashing your A-Levels- and your overall mood. This week, rather than clinging to coffee to get you through the day, try going to bed an hour earlier and see if it makes any difference.