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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Perpetually Tired Student

Hi everyone,

So it has been an uneventful couple of days. I woke for my 9.30 lecture yesterday, promptly groaned, switched off my alarm and went back to sleep until 11.30. This is becoming a disturbingly common occurrence. I don't remember what I did on Monday night, but I'm sure it wasn't particularly exhausting. 

Just as a side note - in Australia, lectures are NOT compulsory and I can listen/watch it online later, so its nothing detrimental to my education, just annoying and a bit more difficult to listen to later. 

Normally the mere thought of a cup of coffee is enough to propel me out of bed, no matter what time it is. I think I know what the issue was though.

Have you ever heard of a sleep debt? Or sleep bank?
We covered this stuff a bit in psychology (no I don't know exactly why we were talking about sleep habits, I'm pretty sure its because its linked to mental health). Basically, theres some equation that for every hour of sleep you lose, you need 8 hours to gain it back. Or something along those lines. So when you build up a sleep debt, you can't just have a massive sleep in to pay it off - you need to do it in increments every night. 
And when you consider the average uni student stays up late studying probably 1 or 2 nights a week, stays up late partying 1 or 2 (sometimes 3) nights and has to get up for classes/work/more studying at a 'reasonable' time, thats a lot of sleep debt! So when I went out on Friday night (in my defense, it was the Village Pirate Party and it was happening outside my window anyway) and had one of those fantastic nights where you end up awake until 4am, then finally sleep, then when you sober up in your sleep your body wakes you at some ridiculous hour (9.30am in my case) (the 'go-to-sleep-drunk-then-wake-up-when-you-get-sober theory' came from Flying Monkey - in my experience, its definitely true). 

So I have accumulated this massive sleep debt - which was probably never 0 to begin with, as I've had some major assignment dramas last week (one horrible moment when I finally went to bed at 12.30 after doing an assignment, then waking up at 1am only to realise I had forgotten about another assignment due the next day and having to get out of bed to do it) and so unless I start getting some serious 9 hour nights in, I will probably be tired forevermore. And since, there is little chance of me getting those coveted 9 hour uninterrupted sleeps, I will be tired until my holidays. But then I have an internship so that'll put me back a bit. So yeah, we are looking at Christmas for me to feel properly rested again. 

I think this is a fairly widely spread phenomenon around universities and maybe, just maybe, one day I will be able to go to my lecturer and say 'I'm really sorry Professor but my sleep debt is just HUGE, can I have one more day to do this assignment'. Of course, the response will probably be 'No Ashleigh, you shouldn't have gone to that party/club/potluck/drinking game last week. If you hadn't we wouldn't have this sleep debt problem'. Which is true. But I maintain that going to those parties/clubs/potlucks/drinking games is all part of being a student, and if I'm tired the next day, but I had an awesome night the night before - I reckon its worth it :)

Thanks guys
Ashleigh xo

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