“But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
Title credit: Robert Frost
It is the first week of the Live Well Challenge! This week, the Wellness Peers will be exploring the topic of sleep and how that affects their well-being, both physical and mental. To meet the peers taking part in the Live Well Challenge this week, visit our ‘Bloggers page. To learn more about the Live Well Challenge, feel free read our introduction post!
Have you ever felt like you are living in a different time zone from your friend, even though in reality you live only 20 minutes away from each other? I know I have. A text message I send at 10:00 am in the morning can be seen several hours later, when a friend finally wakes up at 2:00 in the afternoon. Or vice versa. What I like to call ‘student zones’ only go to show the wide spectrum of sleeping habits, ranging from number of hours slept to the time of day students are active. Often, a ‘student zone’ or the number of hours slept will depend on the various commitments in a student’s life, from academics to work or other extracurricular activities.
Every year without fail I find myself slowly becoming bogged down by essays, midterms, and interpersonal commitments, especially as the term settles in and the first biting edge of autumn hits campus. Never do I feel more like Cinderella, (if Cinderella had digital technology and was worried about assignments instead of attending a ball), constantly glancing down at that little clock on the bottom of my screen, noticing suddenly how fast seconds turn into minutes, minutes into hours.
In times like these I know that I often become…somewhat neglectful of sleep. While I am less likely to pull all-nighters now than I was in first year (did I ever take advantage of IKBLC’s 24/7 opening hours during exam seasons), I do occasionally find myself blinking bleary at a computer screen at 3:00am while trying to finish up citations, half aware of my 7:00am alarm for class. I will be the first to admit that I do not feel my best the following day – more irritable, less focused, less productive.
A lack of sleep can have a significant impact on my health, brain function, and ability to learn and process of information during the day. Yet, it can be so easy to ignore this small but vital action we can take to improve our personal wellbeing.
Therefore this year for the Live Well to Learn Well Challenge, I am going to listen to my body and take the time to reduce fatigue and irritability in one simple way, by sleeping. My challenge for myself and for everyone on campus this week is to take one day of the week and let your body and not your calendar dictate your sleep.
In the evening, I will head to bed when I feel myself getting sleepy and wake up only when my body is ready to. No alarms, no wake up calls, (no asking my brother to throw something heavy at my sleeping form), just letting my internal clock take over. While experts say we cannot ‘catch up’ on lost sleep, it will certainly be interesting to see how my mind and body respond the following day. It can be a great chance for everyone to learn more about their unique sleeping needs and how it can positively (or negatively) impact their mental and physical wellbeing.
Throughout the week, we encourage everyone to join us in the challenge by posting your progress on social media using the #ubcpeerperspective hashtag. On Friday, the Wellness Peers will be reflecting and posting their experiences with the challenge, so feel free to revisit Healthy Minds later this week to see what fellow UBC students had to say on this challenge.
Good luck everyone and happy sleeping!
To learn more about the benefits of sleep and get tips on how to improve your sleep quality, visit the Live Well to Learn Well webpage on sleep or read about other students’ sleeping experiences on the Healthy Minds Blog.
If you feel like you are constantly feeling fatigued or having sleep difficulties, consider speaking with a health professional such as a counsellor or a doctor. Getting help earlier before letting your difficulties overwhelm you can help you feel better sooner and avoid long term stress.
Post Written by Kleo Fang