The Importance of Prioritizing Sleep

By: Yosef Scher  |  May 27, 2024

By Yosef Scher, Senior Science and Technology Editor

How many of us wake up in the morning feeling exhausted and drained of energy? Chances are, you are like most college students in America who get an average of 6 – 6.9 hours of sleep per night. However, according to numerous studies, college students should get around seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, with all of our classes, night seder, extracurriculars, club events, and socialization, there seems to be an insufficient amount of time in the day to do everything and still get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night. That being said, I firmly believe that if you prioritize something, you will find the time to get it done. Perhaps, if people are more aware of the benefits of sleep, they will start prioritizing it and find a way to get the recommended amount of sleep without compromising too much of the other things they enjoy doing.

The first, and arguably the main reason why sleep must be prioritized, is because of the detrimental effects a lack of sleep can have on one’s health. Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression. Sleep deficiency is also linked to a higher chance of injury, such as being in a car accident from sleeping at the wheel or tripping over something because you were not as aware as you normally are of your surroundings. Most importantly, sleep provides immune support and enables the body’s natural healing processes. As a result, if you do not get enough sleep, you have a higher likelihood of getting sick. Practically, this means that your next day will be more challenging and you will have trouble functioning properly in your classes or doing the things that you would like to do. 

In addition to reducing physical symptoms, sleep has also proven to reduce emotional and mental ailments. Research has proven that there is a close relationship between sleep and mental health. In fact, consistent sleep deprivation can lead to a detrimental continuous cycle of low self-esteem, which leads to feelings of worry and stress. Furthermore, sleep deficiency can cause one to feel more depressed, isolated, and anxious. Obviously, no one wants to feel this way. By prioritizing a good night of sleep, you can reduce the likelihood of developing depression and anxiety, as well as other mental illnesses, by as much as ten and seventeenfold

While reducing symptoms of physical and mental ailments are convincing reasons for most people to prioritize sleep, some students may still believe that staying up late to study is more beneficial than sleeping. Unfortunately for them, scientists have discovered that the opposite is true. For starters, it has been shown that sleep improves the retention of knowledge. This is due to sleep’s vital role in forming and storing long-term memories. Therefore, if you try to cram for a test and pull an all-nighter, the chances that you will not retain most – if any – of the information is very slim. Interestingly, researchers have found that when you learn something new, the best way to remember it is to sleep on it because sleeping helps strengthen memories formed throughout the day. A study conducted by the Learning Center at the University of North Carolina found that the GPAs of students who got more sleep were higher than those who got less sleep per night. Contrary to popular belief, sacrificing sleep for study is not a wise decision. Prioritizing sleep can actually enhance your academic performance.

It is evident that sleep is important for us to be able to function optimally. When we don’t get enough sleep, not only do we increase our chances of physical and mental ailments, but we also reduce our abilities to learn and retain information efficiently. So, the next time you have the urge to watch just one more episode of the television show you have been binging or to scroll through your social media for another five minutes before you go to sleep, think about how that one decision will affect your health and learning capabilities.