Studies show that more than 70% of Australian teenagers do not get the recommended 9-10 hours of sleep at night.

During VCE I was definitely part of that 70%, averaging only about 5-6 hours a night. It came to a point where I was constantly tired during the day and napped for excessive hours after getting home from school, only to stay up to ungodly hours at night and repeat the cycle again the next day. And this tiredness became my normal state; I didn’t know what having an adequate amount of sleep felt like anymore.  I was just. Always. Tired.

And what did I even stay up for? If you haven’t gauged from my previous articles, I am a horrific procrastinator so I often spent late nights trying to finish assignments and write essays that were due the next day. Sometimes, after still having unfinished work at 3am, I woke up early in order to complete it which resulted in me only getting about 3 hours of sleep to last me the school day. Even without those urgent deadlines, I stayed up talking to people on Facebook, watching videos on YouTube, catching up on the things I had missed on Twitter and reading random articles on Wikipedia. In a way, those late, late hours were the only time in the day where I had time completely to myself and didn’t feel guilty about doing those things because nobody was expecting me to study. And sometimes, I just couldn’t get to sleep, no matter how hard I tried.

I know that a lot of students struggle with sleeping problems, and for all kinds of reasons, may it be intense school demands, social activities or clinical conditions that make it very difficult to fall asleep. The fact is, as a whole, we are a chronically sleep deprived bunch and this isn’t good for us at all, mentally or physically.

Not having enough sleep during the night means loss of energy and inability to concentrate during the day, decreased attention span and capacity to engage in relationships with the people around you. It means loss of motivation and drops in performance, feeling weak and making bad decisions, being irritable and moody. Additionally, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety, mental disorders that plague our young population.

I guess the point I’m trying to put across here is that sleep is important. It is so important, not only for doing well in school but also for your mental and physical wellbeing. You don’t want to be micro-sleeping and constantly thinking about going home to sleep during class when you’re supposed to be learning and absorbing information. Ultimately, not sleeping enough is stopping you from reaching your full potential and being the best you can be.

(I know now that some iron deficiency in my blood contributed to my constant tiredness, but it ultimately stemmed from my terrible sleeping habits. And although I wouldn’t say I did badly in school at all, I often do wonder how much better I could have done if only I had prioritised sleep.)

I know that it’s much easier said than done, but try to sleep earlier; do your work earlier so you aren’t forced to stay up late to finish them, say good bye to your friends on Messenger at midnight instead of at 3am and those YouTube subscriptions can also wait.

Sleep earlier, perform better, and be better. It will do you a world of good.

Written by Anna :>