In our busy high school lives, we are used to cramming class after class, activity after activity, extracurricular after extracurricular. This seemingly endless work pushes us to become workaholics – addicted to somehow running nonstop on quickly diminishing energy. As a result of our obsession with work, we tend to go to bed late. And the next day, we wake up bright and early, though our expressions aren’t nearly as brilliant. Overall, constantly overworking ourselves leads to a detriment often brushed off as inconsequential: sleep deprivation.
The simple act of sleeping plays an essential role in our health and functionality. Sleep is necessary to preserve both physical and mental health. For smaller children, it is the time where growth occurs. It’s also the time where your body is repairing your blood vessels and heart. Studies have often shown that less sleep leads to an increase in risk of obesity in teenagers, and for everyone, an increased risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and multiple other health issues. Unsurprisingly, sleep also affects mental health. The basic effects of sleep deprivation are apparent daily: inability to focus, learn, and complete tasks quickly and efficiently. Empirically, more sleep makes it easier to learn and absorb new information. As a result, getting an extra hour of sleep may actually be more beneficial before an important exam as compared to staying up and studying that extra hour.
Taking a step back, it’s clear that the situation is one of short term versus long term benefit. Thinking that we can accomplish more if we stay up, struggling to keep our eyelids peeled open, we brave through the night even though our body tells us it’s way too late. The next morning, however, the regret finally catches up to us as we realize there’s no way we can function normally for the entire day. At that point, most of us decide we should’ve gone to sleep earlier. This repeated manifestation is an obvious example of the human tendency to value short term gratification over more long term considerations. Though cliche, it’s important for us to fight back the urge to stay up and finally get some much needed rest.