World Sleep Day

Friday, March 18 was World Sleep Day. It was inaugurated in 2008. The World Sleep Day theme for 2016 was “Good Sleep is a Reachable Dream.” Last year’s theme was “When Sleep is Sound, Health and Happiness Abound.” If you are among the many who have never heard of World Sleep Day you may be wondering how you celebrate it. The answer is simple, with a pillow fight.

I would like to use this day to highlight the importance of sleep and the problems that can develop from a lack of sleep. Sleep is important for a number of reasons. It restores our energy, strengthens our immune system, helps us think more clearly and creatively, and strengthens memory, to name a few. Most adults need between six and ten hours of sleep each night. Those numbers will vary a little because different people need different amounts of sleep to feel rested. If you are frequently tired or irritable during the day and find you sleep more than an extra two hours a night on weekends, you are probably not getting enough sleep during the week.

If you are not getting enough sleep you are at a greater risk of experiencing more illnesses (colds, flu, etc.), increased weight gain, car accidents (caused by drowsy driving), having a lower GPA and a decreased academic performance. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the best way to maximize your performance on final exams is to both study and get a good night of sleep.

There are two primary factors that affect how alert we are, sleep quantity and sleep quality. Sleep quality issues may have to be addressed by a professional if you have or suspect you have a sleep disorder. However, the quantity of sleep can sometimes be improved by simply going to bed earlier. It can be very tempting for students to pull all­ nighters when preparing for tests. However, research has shown that students who pull all-nighters are more likely to have a lower GPA. This suggests all-nighters may not be the best solution.

Tips for increasing the amount of sleep you are getting includes going to bed earlier, limiting the naps taken during the day, exercising, and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and night. Caffeine stays in your systems for several hours and can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

I hope you add World Sleep Day to your calendar next year. I also hope you enjoy your pillow fight.

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