MCAT Re-booted: Sleep
February 22, 2013
Sometimes I think dogs have it best, they can just sleep all day. It brings to mind the age old question, how long can you burn the candle at both ends? A typical pre-med week is jam packed with activities, classes, studying, and if it is that time in your career, MCAT studying! With so many things going on in and out of the classroom, many pre-meds start waking up earlier and going to bed later. Dangerous habits can form with constant abuse of coffee, energy drinks, and medications. While those can have their place, nothing can replace a good night’s rest.
Sleep is vital to the body and the body is vital to the mind. Recently a fellow colleague of mine forwarded a few articles over to me on how important sleep can be. I couldn’t resist bringing this topic up in the MCAT Re-booted series. First off, I must say sleep is highly individual on how much is truly required, but we all know when we get to the point where we are tired, irritable, and just generally sleep deprived. Now this won’t be a long drawn out blog entry on how to sleep better, but more a heads up to think about the things that can happen due to loss of quality sleep. (Yes, quality, sleeping in the library does NOT count!) According to Harvard Health Publications here are 6 prime reasons to get enough sleep:
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
Remember the original challenge of MCAT Re-Booted is to be HAPPY in your MCAT studies. This IS possible, we need to remember that taking care of ourselves physically leads to better mental health! Coming up next week: nutrition! In all things #MCATdomination!