Inadequate sleep seems to be a trend these days. With more and more people travelling long hours for work and working till late, sleep is one thing that begins to take a toll of our highly demanding, haphazard lifestyle. Though experts suggest 7-8 hours of good night’s sleep every day, it seems like a challenging task for most around. Even teenagers and young adults are beginning to give less important to one of the most important aspects of our health – sleep.
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining your physical and mental health, but a lot of teenagers resort to late night studies especially before their exams. A new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that teens should go to be early for better grades. According to the study, students who do not go to bed early or wake up at a consistent time every day are more likely to have lower grades
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining your physical and mental health. Lack of sleep, disturbed sleep or even irregular sleep patterns can affect your brain and body in many ways. You body follows an internal circadian clock to regulate the sleep-wake cycle and also manage various functions. If this cycle is disturbed, it can confuse your body and affect your biological processes.
For the study, 61 students from Harvard College were asked to maintain online diaries to record their sleep schedules for 30 days. Researchers identified two groups: regular sleepers, or those who went to bed and woke up around the same time every day, and irregular sleepers, who had different sleep patterns every day.
One of the major differences between regular and irregular sleepers could be noticed in the grade point averages. The team used a unique scoring index where every student’s sleep regularity was calculated on scale of 0 to 100. Students with very irregular sleep patterns were given lower scores and vice versa. The results showed that with every increase of 10 points on the regularity index, the students had an average increase of 0.10 in their GPA.
A regular sleep pattern is as important as the quality and quantity of sleep
The primary reason for this has been discovered as the delayed release of the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin manages our sleep and wake cycles. If you are an irregular sleeper, melatonin is released later at night which further pushes your sleep time and disturbs your circadian clock. Researchers explain that this can confuse your body regarding and make it feel like it is in another time zone.
Moreover, irregular sleepers were also found to have less exposure to light during the day but more exposure at night, which also can affect the circadian clock, whether it is sunlight, fluorescent light in a classroom or artificial light from a phone or any other electronic device. This is important to note because the human circadian clock is very sensitive to light. The team of researchers feel that there has been a lot of talk about the quantity and quality of sleep but one aspect of sleep has been a bit ignored which is regularity. The important point that the study is trying to make is that going to bed early may not be enough, you need to make sure that your sleep timings are consistent which means that you sleep and wake up around the same time every day.
Your sleep pattern is equally important because if your internal body clock is disturbed it not only affects your physiological systems but can also lower your immunity, increase the risk of infection and flu, make you gain weight, affect your cognitive abilities and of course, impact your grades.