Romanticizing Sleep Deprivation
~ 4 Minute 20 Second Read
Lately, no matter where I am or who I’m talking to, I’m in the presence of someone who is tired. Not just a “had to wake up and walk my dog in the middle of the night” tired but a “only slept 3 hours last night” tired. I have even been in this condition myself periodically as of late. I was beginning to notice mood changes and I am the type of person that when an aspect of my life is weighing me down, I have to find out what it is.
In this case, it was sleep deprivation. “Deprivation” sounds like such an intense word. We use it to try and explain things like poverty or harsh dehydration. In reality, sleep deprivation is a lot more frequent than we think. Unfortunately, my mom suffers from Insomnia to the point where her sleepless nights average at a consistency of three nights in a row. Since it is such a common occurrence in her life, she has even been in an accident for falling asleep at the wheel. This is a chronic case of something most people in our generation are currently experiencing yet avoiding. In simple terms: sleep deprivation is the state of not having enough sleep.
Average hours of sleep needed by age:
Newborn-2 Months: 12 – 18 hours
3 Months-1 Year: 14 – 15 hours
1-3 Years: 12 – 14 hours
3-5 Years: 11 – 13 hours
5-12 Years: 10 – 11 hours
12-18 Years: 8.5 – 10 hours
Adults 18+: 7.5 – 9 hours
Recently, I have been consistently sleeping around six hours. Even writing that I had the urge to go down an extra hour to exaggerate/dramatize it because it takes much less sleep for our generation to consider it an issue. Though, even with this average duration I have linked a few negative symptoms that have come up for me. Lack of interest in daily activities, irritability, eating increase and continual sickness whether cold or flu. As you may imagine, these symptoms are not something that I am happy about, yet it is something I have full control over. I work an evening job where once I get home I will either shower, heat up my leftover dinner, plunge into watching my favourite TV show or all of the above. This extends my bedtime from what could have been 11:00pm to about 3:00am.
What I have noticed lately is how the announcement of being tired has been exhausted on it’s own. If you try and tell your teacher that you didn’t get any sleep they will laugh at you in a way that it should be expected. Or if you sleep in until noon your parents will roll their eyes at you because you are the “typical, lazy teenager”. This is not something we should be reinforcing.
After that example you may think it tends to be older generations that are looking down on the young but I have noticed it amongst social media too. We have all had those nights where you shock yourself by seeing the clock blinking 4:30am after going on an episode bender of your favourite show or staying up late to play your favourite game. This brings you that urge to post on social media to see who else is up, when sure enough you will get some favourites or retweets by others of the same. Unintentionally commending you for your behaviour. The next morning, you make that extra stop at Starbucks for the Instagram with a caption that implies your only way of survival is that cup of coffee. Which again, gets likes that subconsciously store in the back of your mind. You talk to the students in the post-secondary institution you are looking to attend and they tell you to prepare for all-nighters because that is the only way to complete your homework load. This is confirmed by witnessing the above social media post examples by them, as well as them falling asleep in class. Which you then mimic after enrollment.
Being tired has become romanticized by the social majority. This is something we need to be aware of and try to fix. Searching #tired on Instagram will result in 39,000,000+ posts. While searching #coffee will result in 30,000,000+ posts. That is about one fifth of the amount of the total users on Instagram. This makes me want to break the trend that being tired is something we should accept and glorify.
For those of you curious of the side effects of sleep deprivation:
Here are some ways that I have gotten my sleep schedule back on track:
1. Turn off your phone at night. This helps reduce distractions as well as helps your phone battery. Electronics are not meant to be powered on 24/7. It keeps them overworked and on the road to overheating or wearing out. The same way I am arguing that we need sleep, they do also.
2. If you have been spending most of your time in your room with activities other than sleep it is common that your body will not relate your bedroom to sleep. That means, you could be under your covers at 10:00pm and your body will still not think that you are trying to go to bed. You may have heard this before where people tell you to leave your bed for the sole purpose of sleeping. It has to be dark with no distractions. While, this is a good idea, I find it difficult to follow. The way I bypass this issue is if I have spent time in my bed during the day on my laptop, I will flip my positioning. If your head was rested on the side facing the door while you were working, then switch the pillows around so your head is facing away from the door when you are hoping to go to bed. This disrupts the pattern and your body won’t be expecting laptop time.
3. Listen to music. I find that listening to music helps me sleep because songs trigger memories. When your mind is wandering and reliving memories; those thoughts will transition into dreams.
4. Keep your bed clean. Sometimes, I will fall asleep with my laptop beside me and I will be contorted in such an odd position trying to avoid it throughout the night. This not only makes it hard to get comfortable but can also make you sore in the morning from sleeping in out-of-the-ordinary ways.
5. Scented plug-ins. When people draw themselves a bath, it is likely they will use aroma therapy by lighting candles or dissolving bath bombs. I have candles in my room but it is clearly dangerous to keep an open flame while you are unconscious. I have tried potpourri or those scented sticks that you keep in oil but I always find the smell fades after a short period of time. If you want a consistent smell, use a plug-in. No one ever thinks to use them in the bedroom as they work effectively in bathrooms or near animal beds or litter boxes. Take advantage of them for yourself. Many scents have actually been proven to reduce stress and help you relax. I’d argue nothing is more soothing than lavender.
I hope some of these options can help those of you with difficulties sleeping. Now, keep in mind the power of influence we have on each other. Let’s set a goal to start getting a good night sleep. Not only does it prevent the symptoms mentioned above but there are many benefits that it promotes also. Including:
So when you think the only solution to finish your work is to stay up until it is done – you are only creating a vicious cycle and ruining tomorrow. If you get a proper sleep, you will have the rejuvenation you need to complete your tasks with sharper thinking and in a quicker time frame. Of course, it’s inevitable to be tired on occasion and sometimes there truly is nothing you can do about it. This is more about bringing attention to the repetition and popularity of it and demonstrating the urge to moderate where you can. Now go cuddle your pets without Netflix and drink that cup of caffeine-free tea instead of coffee. You will notice the changes.