Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Wake up and read this

Justin Surgent/Collegian

Are you even awake right now? Did you get less sleep on nights this weekend than during the week because you stayed up late partying or hanging out with friends? If you hardly get enough sleep during the school week because of staying up late doing homework and studying, weekends are the perfect time to make up for it; however, many students choose not to. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation can take a negative toll on one’s body, so try to get off of that laptop and all of those other excellent procrastination tools to get homework done earlier so you can get to bed.

Using electronic devices before bed is not recommended in the first place.

“Researchers say that staring at light-emitting screens during the hour before going to sleep inhibits the proper release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s natural sleep cycles,” wrote Jonathan Benson of

Some older people tend to watch television before bed, while younger adults these days participate in more active, brain-engaging activities, like playing video games and using smart phones, which experts say may be even worse for sleep and overall health.

I don’t know about you, but I always keep my phone next to me in my bed, and I find myself woken up by an occasional unwelcome vibration. Long-term exposure to even low levels of electromagnetic frequencies may cause serious health problems, so it is a good idea to keep them away from your body whenever possible. I think I’ll keep it somewhere farther away from now on.

During a rough week, have you ever woken up with your throat on fire or your nose all stuffed up? Sleep has a large effect on your immune system, which is made up of several types of cells and proteins to keep foreign invaders such as colds or flu away.

“A lot of studies show our T cells [white blood cells that are important to the immune system] go down if we are sleep deprived,” wrote Diwakar Balachandran, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “Inflammatory cytokines [cell signaling molecules] go up … this could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.”

Late night snacks at the Berkshire Dining Commons sound like such a good idea, especially when the menu has fried dough or mozzarella sticks, but eating too soon before going to bed can cause you to toss and turn all night. You might even think you are hungry because, according to research endocrinologist Dr. Eve Van Cauter of University of Chicago Medical Center, sleep deprived people produce less of the appetite-suppressing hormone, pectin, which tells the body it’s not hungry. There is a correlation between less sleep and weight gain. Less than a week of poor sleep quality can result in weight gain and elevated blood sugar. That’s another thing to add to the list of possible ways to acquire the freshman 15.

If you really want to eat later at night though, “The ideal mix of foods for a really good night’s sleep [is] going to be some carbohydrate foods, preferably the wholegrain, and then some protein foods – but just a small amount. A really good example of that would be something like a banana with a glass of milk, a slice of toast with a small amount of cheese or turkey on top,” wrote Dr. Clare Collins, a lecturer in nutrition at the University of Newcastle in England.

Milk has amino acids, which are converted in the brain to serotonin, a calming hormone. Bananas have carbs. When one adds carbs to the amino acids, it boosts the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin then becomes melatonin, the hormone that triggers sleep.

You may have noticed that before bed, peoples’ moods can go haywire. Sleepiness impairs judgment, causing decision making to be more difficult because one can’t assess situations as well and choose the practical behavior to react with, which can get one into sticky situations. By feeling more rested, one can avoid these uneasy feelings.

Sleep deprivation leads to reduced alertness and concentration and negative effects on memory. It makes it harder for individuals to perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought. It’s more difficult to focus and pay attention, which is hard when one is already trying not to fall asleep in a boring lecture. Because one can’t focus as well, it’s more difficult to pick up information that one will later need to know for an exam.

As one may be aware from taking psychology courses, connections that make human memories are strengthened during sleep. People take what they experience throughout the day and add it to their memories. Different phases of sleep play different roles in consolidating new information into memories. If one’s sleep is cut short or disrupted, it interferes with these cycles.

When one is tired, one may forget and misplace things often. I know that, since I always put my phone or student ID in different places when I get back to my room. I sometimes forget where I put them and end up taking time to look for them before I leave again, which can become frustrating after a while.

So, one is still tired. According to the The National Sleep Foundation, “Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness 100 percent. A short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.”

On the other hand, “Naps can leave people with sleep inertia, especially when they last more than 10-20 minutes. Sleep inertia is defined as the feeling of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep. While this state usually only lasts for a few minutes to a half-hour, it can be detrimental to those who must perform immediately after waking from a napping period,” found the Sleep Foundation research.

Sleeping is one of things one has more control over in how one will feel the next day. Because so many functions of the body are based off of sleep, try to allow more time to refuel the body, at least for a few nights a week.

Karen Podorefsky is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].


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