Sleep, Glorious Sleep

Dr. Joseph Barber

Sometimes the simplest advice is the best advice, and so I am going to give you some simple advice. It is advice that you may choose to ignore during finals, or might be prevented from heeding at other times because small creatures (e.g., cats, dogs, wicked babies) spend the twilight hours wailing. But the advice is “get enough sleep”. It is advice that I certainly hope to follow again someday very soon (wicked baby permitting).

It may come as no surprise that lack of sleep can have an effect on mood, on health, on the ability to access different types of knowledge, on relationships, on academic success, and potentially on your ability to maximize career opportunities. Getting enough sleep before that important job interview should be a critical part of your preparations. There are lots of studies investigating the link between sleep deprivation and disruption and many of the factors I list above. If you are looking for some (somewhat soporific) reading materials to help you slumber, then you can check out some of these studies and see the results for yourself:

  • Gomes et al. 2011. Sleep and academic performance in undergraduates: a multi-measure, multi-predictor approach. CHRONOBIOLOGY INTERNATIONAL 28(9): 786-801
  • Gunzelmann et al. 2011. Diminished access to declarative knowledge with sleep deprivation. COGNITIVE SYSTEMS RESEARCH 13(1): 1-11
  • Soares et al. 2011. Sleep disturbances, body mass index and eating behaviour in undergraduate students. JOURNAL OF SLEEP RESEARCH 20(3): 479-486
  • Forquer et al. 2008. Sleep patterns of college students at a public university. JOURNAL OF AMERICAN COLLEGE HEALTH 56(5): 563-565
  • Pallos et al. 2007. The quality of sleep and factors associated with poor sleep in Japanese graduate students. SLEEP AND BIOLOGICAL RHYTHMS 5(4): 234-238

The reasons that undergraduates and graduates may have poor sleep habits may vary, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of sleep-specific research that focuses primarily on graduate students out there. Stereotypes might suggest that in the wee hours of the morning undergraduates are out partying, and graduates are locked away in libraries or labs trying to make progress on writing their thesis or getting experiments to work. There is probably some truth in these, but these stereotypes obviously won’t tell the whole story.

Now, there is not much we can do at Career Services to help you sleep better (unless you sleep better listening to online OCR orientations). However, if you are worried about finding internships or jobs, then perhaps the advice of a career advisor will help you feel more prepared and confident – and that will certainly help you sleep better. Addressing your stress and anxiety is important, and if helpful advice from a career advisor doesn’t necessarily help, then make use of some of the other student services available to you as well. It is worth it for a good night’s sleep.

I’ll let Wordsworth have the last word today, and wish you all a good night (do I hear the wailing of my nocturnal baby?).

A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by,
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky;
I’ve thought of all by turns; and still do lie
Sleepless; and soon the small birds’ melodies
Must hear, first utter’d from my orchard trees;
And the first Cuckoo’s melancholy cry.
Even thus last night, and two nights more, I lay,
And could not win thee, Sleep! by any stealth:
So do not let me wear to night away:
Without Thee what is all the morning’s wealth?
Come, blessed barrier betwixt day and day,
Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!

“To Sleep” William Wordsworth

Author: Joseph

Joseph Barber is a Senior Associate Director at Career Services serving graduate students and postdocs. He has a PhD in animal behaviour and animal welfare, and continues to teach these subjects as an adjunct professor at Hunter College (CUNY).

1 thought on “Sleep, Glorious Sleep”

  1. Sleeping is one good way of resting our body and mind. Sometimes if we have a lot of things in mind that made us think like problems, we cannot sleep and that’s the time that stress will follow and after that you will be suffering from depression. this kind of illness is no good especially for those teens and students that’s why having a great time sleeping and relaxing must be done everyday.

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