As you return to school in this unique year of 2021, we’d like to take a moment to share some more wisdom we’ve gained over our varying years on the planet. While not everyone here at Sleep Club is a parent, we were definitely all children once, and we do know what it’s like to start a new school year to begin/return to/finish elementary/middle/high school or college. BUT, most of us have absolutely no idea what it takes to do the scholarly thing in the Time of COVID.
Something we do know, however, is that as times change, taking care of your health does not. There’s a lot of advice we could give you but we know how busy you are wrapping your minds around either being physically back in the classroom, figuring out the hybrid in-class/Zoom sitch, or finding yourself still only able to engage with your class via your monitor while prepping for your first test, researching your first big paper or trying to remember how to navigate your school halls to get to your next class before the bell rings — as well as wondering what the hell that ringing is. Therefore, we’re going to keep it to the one pointer we’ve discovered over our academic years that means the difference between a healthy, happy, low stress school year and thinking summer can’t get here soon enough after just the first few weeks. And our advice is totally free. No money down, no automatic payments to set and forget, no balance due.
There. Simple. Sleep. And not that copping a few zzzz’s in class when no one’s looking or your camera’s turned off kind of slumber. No. That’s about as helpful to you as pulling all-nighters and drinking a large, caffeine ladened latte with an extra shot while popping chocolate covered espresso beans at midnight. Lay down on a bed, turn off all media, close your eyes and let your circadian rhythm take you away so you can ace the all important three R’s of school: REST, RECHARGE, REALIZE.
Yes, we know pulling an all-nighter has been as much a part of college life since the creation of higher education. It’s seen as a necessary evil to get your studying done, papers written, projects completed — you get the drift. With pretty much anything you need available on-line, 24-hour access to virtually any research source you need is one click away. This makes it very easy for you to study whenever and wherever, darling Students. And while this certainly sounds awfully nice, experts say —
Okay, before we move on we want you to know this letter is from the heart, Students, and while we don’t want to bog you down with stats, the belief that those “never closed” options hurt rather than help have been mentioned by people whose job it is to know such things. And, yes, more and more school children — as in, kids who haven’t reached double digits — are getting less and less sleep. And, of course, there are tons of discussions and initiatives being had and proposed to change school start times to later so kids can sleep longer. Oh, and about that later start time idea? Some worry that will only encourage later bedtimes so the point is moot.
Where were we, Students? Oh, yes. While 24-hour accessibility sounds absolutely life-saving, those all-nighters are being pulled by kids as young as elementary school age and it’s just not healthy FOR ANY OF YOU. This would usually be where we’d write something about how 16 hours straight without sleep makes it hard for your brain to work (I believe the word “decline” was used), and 20 hours straight? Well, don’t get behind the wheel of a car is all I’ll say. If you’re pulled over, you’ll read as legally drunk.
Students, we want you to succeed, be happy, and reap the benefits of all the hard work you do, this and every year you’re in school. Sleep really does help — we’re not making any of this up. And as we wrote at the beginning, not just any “grab a nap” will do. Try these four things:
1. Go to bed at the same time EVERY NIGHT
This means no matter whether it’s during the week or the weekend. It gets that circadian rhythm synched up at the right times. Train your body and brain on good habits. They will thank you.
2. Create a cozy space and environment
Yes, Students, we understand some of you are returning to dorms where this may not be as easy as you remember when you were at home but it really is quite simple. You don’t need a bunch of big stuff, just some little touches here and there — it could be photos, scents, a comfy pillow, whatever — that make you feel relaxed.
3. Don’t drink caffeine or workout too close to bedtime
Probably a no brainer but we want to remind you anyway, Students. Relaxation is the key here so meditating, hot decaffeinated herbal tea, nature sounds — whatever trips your calming/soothing/peace trigger, go for it.
4. Get ready, get set, GO… and turn off ALL MEDIA
Before you run screaming from the article, listen — try it. Turn off the TV, the computer, place your phone face down (we know you won’t turn it off — neither do we), make your room as dark as possible, and just let go. All your digital things are kicking your mental ass. Shut down completely for the night so you can REST, RECHARGE, REALIZE.
By the way, we mean REALIZE as in “to achieve” not “to understand and know.”
Give it a shot
And so, dear Students, we end this open letter by telling you we’ve all been there in one way or another. These last couple of years have definitely been an anomaly and we are so clear that figuring out your groove with school is beyond some of us. Honest. But we truly know how packed your days are and that staying up until all hours of the night is not only the way you get your work done for school the next day during NORMAL times, but add to that not leaving your house to go to class at all for as long as many of you have really messed with that slumber schedule. Even if before this happened you fought it, even if you were that kid who snuggled deeper into your pillow and moaned, "Five more minutes" or pounded the snooze button over and over and over... You still had a weekday sleep and wakeup routine that got you through.
Then the VID hit the proverbial fan and you didn't even see the point of getting out of your pajamas. For a Zoom? With your teacher? Huh? Yeah, we know. And that means, during this time, how you, dear Students, have been snoozing has been completely thrown off track. Not enough, too much, "late" for class, "missing" class. On and on. You can do this, however. You can take back your zzzzx's to feel good again – hell, even feel in control. Because sleep is your friend. Good sleep. Restful sleep, to help you Recharge and Realize your goals and dreams.
Because you deserve it.