Sleep is important, especially during finals


Isaac Trusty

Cartoonist Isaac Trusty illustrates a student asleep in a pile of homework with their coffee still in hand. It is important to prioritize sleep, even more so during finals week.

By Lucy Atkinson, Opinion Editor

Ever try to run a marathon after donating blood? That’s a bit like what you’re asking your brain to do when you take a test on no sleep, so sink into those pillows, Huskies. 

College students aren’t famous for their restfulness, especially during the weeks approaching finals. However, cramming for an exam by pulling an all-nighter may be the worst method you could use to prepare. 

This probably feels like an overused plea, but it’s only begged so often because it’s repeatedly proven to be true and because it’s consistently ignored by college students. 

Scientists today remain somewhat stumped as to why animal organisms need sleep. After all, a full body shut-down is hardly the most effective way to fend off predators.

Yet one of their best guesses is that sleep allows an organism to conserve energy and recharge its glycogen levels, according to the National Library of Medicine

Immensely complex story short, glycogen is a form of glucose, and it helps store energy in the body, a sort of life juice for your brain. Throughout the day, glycogen depletes as you spend energy, according to a 2018 study in the National Library of Medicine

When we sleep, our bodies actually work towards a state of paralysis, as explained by the Sleep Foundation. We don’t notice it because we’re re-living the cringey middle school memories our brains broadcast as dreams, but the relaxed muscles and the slowed rate of our hearts and breathing make it so our bodies don’t have as much work to do. 

It’s a bit like turning on a cartoon for your toddler, and it means our brains can focus on restoring  glycogen levels instead of babysitting other bodily functions. 

When you don’t sleep, your brain continues to lose that life juice. Naturally, it won’t be able to run its marathon quite as fast, making you disoriented, giving you that sickly feeling and affecting your memory recall. 

In fact, another study in the National Library of Medicine on adolescents and sleep found that those with the recommended amount of sleep had 20.6% better recall than those without.

What’s the point in staying up studying all night and feeling exhausted during your test, only to not remember anything you read about anyways? Think of that pit-deep feeling when you come to a question you have absolutely no idea how to answer. It’s statistically more avoidable with sleep.

Sleep deprivation isn’t only harmful at the end of the semester. Your poor, breathlessly jogging brain will struggle to do any daily activity without enough sleep. This includes the single most dangerous activity most of us do everyday: driving. 

We don’t talk about it nearly as much, but according to the Sleep Foundation, driving drowsy is nearly as dangerous as driving drunk, accounting for nearly 21% of fatal crashes annually. Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2020 saw 633 deaths caused by drowsy-driving. 

These statistics should be scary. As many will be making long drives to travel home for the summer soon, please consider the protection a rested mind offers. 

Stay safe, fellow students, and don’t neglect your beautiful brains, and sweet dreams!