Running ragged

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Gossip Girl character Blair Waldorf once said, “Sleep is for the weak.” Two weeks ago, I would have agreed with that statement. However after a series of all-nighters and a recent visit to the doctor’s office, I would say sleep is for the enlightened.

There’s a myth that Napoleon Bonaparte and Leonardo da Vinci slept for less than five hours per day. If that’s true, these people were able to accomplish various feats at great risk to their health. They are the exception.

According to a 1997 study done by Stanford University, the average university student should get approximately eight hours of sleep a night. If you ask me, that number should be around six or seven.

It’s not that I’m against sleep, but if it’s a choice between spending extra time on an essay or getting much-needed shuteye, I’m going to pick the former. This type of logic is exactly what leads people to prioritize success over their health.

The unfortunate reality is that people today are busier than in previous generations. Although time management is essential to maintain one’s health and success, people often opt to cut down on sleep to fit everything into their busy schedules.

According to a 2005 StatsCan report, students spend approximately 9.2 hours during the week on school work as well as paid and non-paid work. On average a university student has 20 to 25 hours of class a week with additional time spent on tasks like personal care, commuting, leisure and socializing.

The survey also reports that over 16 per cent of students consider themselves workaholics, 64 per cent forgo sleep to complete other tasks and approximately 39 per cent of students feel that they are under constant pressure to handle more than they are able to.

As someone who is a midnight caffeine-boost enthusiast and does more than the occasional all-nighter, I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed.

These types of pressures often lead to unhealthy lifestyle decisions like frequent caffeine dependency, smoking and binge eating to ward off stress.

While I understand the concern about the long-term effects of caffeine addiction and sleep deprivation, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to complete daily tasks.

Juggling a full course load, running daily errands, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities and maintaining a social life can be a handful. During busy weeks, activities like going to the gym and getting a proper night’s rest are often neglected. Healthy lifestyle choices can be seen as a chore.

The root of the problem isn’t a lack of understanding. Rather, it’s the competitive nature of today’s society which makes it impractical for individuals to adequately lead healthy lifestyles.

Students, myself included, need to resist this tendency to run themselves ragged. It’s not easy to change bad habits but don’t wait for a bad personal health experience to learn to take better care of yourself.

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