It’s a simple fact of life that we need sleep. Yet still it seems that so many of us are severely deprived of it. From what I see, no group of people suffer more from a lack of sleep than IB students! But does it really matter? Is a lack of it really going to effect your mental ability as much as everyone keeps telling you? The short answer is yes. And I’ll tell you why…
A common misconception is that sleep is when the brain and body shuts down. In fact, it is an active period involving a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening.
Sleep consolidates memories
When you sleep, memories are moved from short term to long term storage. Research has shown time and time again that after slumber, people tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks. When we’re catching the zzzz’s, the brain actually undergoes structural changes and new neural connections are made and strengthened. Sleeplessness will result in forgetfulness!
It’s essential for your immune system
When you sleep, disease-fighting substances are created and released. Therefore, the less we get, the less able our bodies are to fight off infections. Many studies even show that sleep-deprivation can increase your chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes!
What makes us feel sleepy?
Darkness triggers the release of a hormone called melatonin which make us feel less alert. Melatonin levels stay high all night, for around 12 hours in fact, usually until about 9am the next day. Also, a molecule called adenosine accumulates throughout the day as a product of our cells working away. These two combined signal to your brain it’s time to rest.
Does coffee actually help?
Caffeine is a short term solution. It inhibits adenosine (the one that makes you feel sleepy), effectively tricking your brain into thinking you’re not tired. When you sleep, adenosine is removed from your system. But, if you don’t get enough, your adenosine levels will still be high in the morning and hence you feel drowsy. So what do you do? Reach for a coffee. The vicious cycle continues.
How much do I actually need?
For 14 to 17 year olds, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 8-10 hours a night. When you feel stressed or your work-load is mounting, sacrificing sleep should be a last resort! Make time for it like you would any other activity.
So now you know the value of sleep, and hopefully are convinced of its benefits! Remember, don’t let the stresses of the IB consume you – maybe getting help from our amazing team of IB alumni tutors will help you stay on top of everything. Check out our Online Private Tuition and upcoming Revision Courses!