This is an article that Fluffy, Nonny, and X (Class XI, 2018) jointly wrote, exhorting you to sleep at least 9 hours every night.
Let’s get it straight right at the outset — sleeping less than 9 hours a day makes you dumb, irritable and disease-prone. It will decrease your scores, it will reduce the number of friends you have, it will reduce the number of years you will live.
But most of you end up sleeping only 7 or 7.5 hours a night. That’s criminal. Let us tell you why. Stay with us while we explain it fully. This will be long.
Before you start thinking that we are just preaching something we don’t practice, let us admit that we are not the epitomes of discipline either. For years, we have slept less than the prescribed 9 hours, and most of the ill-effects that you see described here have been drawn from our own experience. That’s why you should heed us. We know what we are talking about.
One final point. Though we give you plenty of stories from our lives, we don’t draw our conclusions from those only. The points that come after are backed by solid science. We must always trust science, over our lazy instincts.
Let’s begin, then.
One of the greatest effects of sleep loss is mental laziness. A couple of years back, many of us had just created Gmail accounts and we would stay up late at night, chatting with each other. The next day in class, Sir would be the only one speaking (even though it was supposed to be a group discussion, and not a lecture) and the rest of us would be staring blankly, often not even registering what he said. We didn’t realize then that this was due to lack of sleep, so despite numerous scoldings, the classroom “discussions” remained as boring as ever.
Not only do conversations become dull, but productivity also diminishes due to lack of sleep. For example, we read more slowly, or solve sums more slowly when we sleep less. Nowhere that’s more vividly demonstrated than the SAT scores — which dramatically improve after a month of solid 9-hour sleep.
Less sleep makes you forget things. Motu was once supposed to inform class X that their exam was going to start at 8:00. Evidently his brain had switched off on the short journey from the conference room to admin computer lab. By the time he reached there, he had changed the time to 8:30. Had he slept enough each night, a blunder such as this would surely not have occurred. As you can see, lack of sleep can reduce your sharpness.
As opposed to that, consider Nonny, whose SAT math score rose dramatically from a mere 720 to a near perfect 790 after she started sleeping at appropriate times. So clearly, lack of sleep can prevent you from reaching your true potential.
The consequences can get more damaging as you grow older. Senior students often have to study a lot and prepare for exams. With the burden of textbooks on our shoulders, we tend to think that sleeping too much will result in a lot of wastage of time. There are two flaws with this argument.
Firstly, most people tend to waste zillions of hours engaging in other frivolous activities. Those hours would be better spent sleeping. Secondly, the dichotomy between sleep and work is non-existent. Sleep is the time when new memories are processed in the brain. So if you spend too much time studying and too little time sleeping, you won’t be able to remember much of what you read. In other words, you may spend all your time staring at your books, but you won’t learn anything if you don’t sleep on your new knowledge.
The ill-effects of lack of sleep isn’t just confined to work. Sleep can make you happier as well. Consider Dos, who sleeps nine hours every night. No matter what is hurled at him, be it a scolding or a bad result, Dos is never downcast. On the other hand, GG sleeps for only six hours every night. No wonder she is always staring into the middle distance with a vacuous, melancholic expression.
If all of this isn’t worrying enough, imagine a scenario far into the future when you have already spent a good number of years not sleeping properly. Well, you might not actually have to imagine it because we already have a living example of such a person in our school. Mule was once one of the sharpest and brightest students of our school. But of late, he has started going to sleep very late. Now, in class, he often asks questions that are either utterly irrelevant, or were answered one hour back. He is getting mostly Bs and Cs in the pre-boards, even though Path 2s are expected to get a string of As and A*s.
Apart from making you dumb over time, sleep deprivation can also take a toll on your health. Because sleep boosts immunity, lack of sleep can make you fall sick more often. You’ll understand that this is true if you have ever had a fever and recovered quickly after a whole day of sleep.
Furthermore, growth hormones are released in the body during sleep. To prove our point, let’s take the example of Fluffy. For many years, Fluffy would be going to sleep at one o’clock in the night. As a result, she is now smaller than many of the class six girls in our school.
Sleep loss also makes you fat. Sleep promotes the release of hunger-suppressing hormones. As a result, when you are sleep deprived, you tend to eat more than you need to.
All the health benefits resulting from sleep finally enhances athletic performance. Even if you don’t care that much about your mental abilities decaying, you surely don’t want to become a bedridden, obese dwarf.
‘Well, all that is fine, but I genuinely don’t feel sleepy’, you might say. Maybe you don’t, but that is only because of modern inventions such artificial lights and gadgets. Naturally, there isn’t any light after sunset. So evolutionarily, we are built to go to sleep at that time. However, these modern technologies now keep you awake beyond the biological sleeping time. So, try to discipline yourself to switch off all lights and avoid all gadgets (e.g. TV, smartphone) at least half an hour before going to bed. That way, you may find it easier to fall asleep at an appropriate time.
And if all of this fails to convince you, ask yourself, why would you even want to stay awake and suffer in a world as horrible as this one?