Sleep is a major body function that helps keep us running day in and day out. However, many people do not get the rest they need. Due to the popularity of the Internet, e-mail, video games, television and an around-the-clock society, it’s hard to get the rest needed to function at optimum level.
Many of us have heard doctors saying that eight hours is the minimum amount of sleep that the human body needs. Sleep is directly related to learning and working. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a person who sleeps at least eight hours outperforms a person who sleeps less than eight hours.
Sleep directly affects college students and their ability to learn. Several studies done by the (NIH) prove this theory. Lack of sleep leads to slower thinking processes, makes it harder to pay attention and makes it easier to be confused, as well as other side effects.
Another side effect is slower reaction time. This may not seem like an important effect but it is, especially if the sleepy person is driving. On a recent episode of the Discovery Channel show “Mythbusters,” Tory, Grant and Kari were test- ing the myth that driving sleepy is worse than driving “tipsy” or just below the legal blood alcohol level. They decided to test this theory with a monotony test that represented driving on
a highway and a reaction test where they drove on a course that simulated driving through traffic. After several rounds of testing, the results showed that driving sleepy can be anywhere from two to 10 times worse than driving tipsy, depending on the person.
Hormones are also affected by sleep. Some doctors think that lack of sleep leads to obesity. Leptin, which is an appetite suppressor, is released into the body as a person sleeps and grehlin, an appetite stimulant, decreases.
Most people seem to think that because they can’t sleep, caffeine is the best answer. Caffeine may be the “quick fix” but it’s really not healthy for your body.
Drinks like coffee may give you a quick energy boost but at the end of the day, you’re still tired. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which elevates the heart rate and blood pressure. It also causes the body to become dehydrated making some reach for another drink. Caffeine can also cause a person not to sleep. According to www. overcaffeinated.org, caffeine has a half-life of six hours. Basically that 200 mg soda that you had at noon for lunch will still be in your system at 6 p.m. Caffeine can also become addictive.
The next time one thinks about getting a cup of coffee or soda, think about how it will affect your sleep and in turn how it will affect your grades.