The Science of Sleep
When I think about sleep and lack there of, specific memories from nights of forcibly chugging caffeine, cringing after swallowing each Adderall, and laboriously half-assing my way through strenuous projects flash behind my eyes. I can also recall the days that followed those long, never-ending nights. After smoking a cigarette while watching the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean, I can hardly put together a decent outfit to make it to class. I shuffle to class in my moderately socially acceptable slipper-shoes with yet another large latté in hand and yet another cigarette. The infamous rebellious teen phrase seems to say it all: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. Well, in my case, I feel that the phrase should be: “I’m dead when I sleep”.
After long days filled with many healthy and unhealthy activities, I hit my bed and I crash. Once my computer has finally been stored and all my anxieties have escaped my head, I can finally drift off into dreamland. My problem though is that dreamland makes me about as aware as a rock. There are many accounts of me popping up frantically from my sleep anywhere from twenty to two hours late for class, a meeting, or a job, because I am dead to my surroundings when I am sleeping. I wake up disoriented, hair a mess, and my alarm clock thrown somewhere into the pile of clothes that hide my dorm room floor. I am sleep deprived.
The main problem I find about pulling an all-nighter is not just the terrible concentration, headache, and slurred speech, but the amount of sleep-debt I rack up along the way. The sleep-debt seems to never go away. For example, last Wednesday I woke up at 7:33 PM after having gone to sleep the night before at approximately 3 PM. According to my psychology textbook and my psychiatrist, this is not normal and this is not safe for my body. After taking the Sleep Deprivation Quiz, created by James Maas, I see that I am in major need of sleep. My anxiety and possible depression come into thought; how am I supposed to fall asleep with a plethora of racing thoughts dancing around my head each night? On the other hand, how am I supposed to wake up in time for anything when I don’t even have enough motivation to get out of bed to eat?
There were only several questions on Maas’s survey that I actually answered “No” to. I do not have an issue with solving problems or being creative. In fact, many of my sleepless nights are due to my need for creativity, art, or writing. Also, I do not fall asleep while watching TV. I took this question two ways; firstly, when I am watching TV (Let’s say in the afternoon), I do not find myself drifting off to sleep. Also, when I am trying to fall asleep at night, I do not have the TV playing or on mute in my bedroom. I do not fall asleep during boring lectures or warm rooms, but I do find myself daydreaming a lot. Also, I do not fall asleep after heavy meals or low doses of alcohol. Although I may feel tired after a very, very immense meal, I know not to crawl into my bed, because if I do fall asleep every single carbohydrate will have me filled with water-weight and bloat when I do wakeup. I do not feel drowsy when driving, because I am normally drinking a Redbull, on some amount of Adderall, and jamming music at a high level. The most interesting question that I answered “No” to was the question of whether I need a nap to make it through the day. I chuckled when I read this one, because I know that if I do take a nap during the day, I probably won’t be waking up until the next morning.
The Science of Sleep