Sleep is, in my opinion, one of the most neglected natural bodily functions by the young people of modern society. It’s one of our most basic needs and yet we find ourselves overlooking it entirely for lesser more menial tasks like –for example’s sake – completing homework or watching YouTube videos. To function at a relatively reasonable standard young people need between eight and ten hours of sleep, but recently it has been observed that the average sleep duration for young people is falling short of the recommended number of hours required, which quite honestly isn’t at all surprising for myself and I doubt is for anyone else either. Sleep, no matter how much I too have neglected it over the years, is something I am extremely passionate about. The habitual behaviour is a mechanism for literal magic in my eyes. Almost everyone dreams in some form or another, and within those dreams (or in some unlucky cases, nightmares) we all experience an almost otherworldly experience, no matter how similar to our own world it may be. Dreams allow us a peek at a life free of impossibility – how could that be described as anything less than magical?
In my case, even though I truly do enjoy the form of escapism my mind creates, I have a bit of pull towards the actual health benefits sleep provides. The NSF described sleep as “vital to your well-being, as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat” - to which I say, “agreed!” What’s the point of sitting up until 4am –as I know many of my peers do – completing homework when the side effects of such a late night will most definitely outweigh the lectures of your teacher in the morning?
It’s not even just the younger generations that lack their much needed, and elusive, sleep. Many adults don’t even give a second thought to ditching the snooze… and quite often for a night of booze! But it could be that all important work, too. Modern day families have so much pressure put on them to fit in with the herd, and to do so we all have to partake in an enormous amount of things; I doubt there’d even be enough blades of grass in the world to cover everything people have to do these days. Our world is full of to-do lists, screaming children that demand our every minute and serious attention seeking issues - but where do we ever find time to think of ourselves anymore?
One thing that we could all treat ourselves with more often is a well-deserved nap. There’s nothing better than settling down for a little shut-eye: even better when you actually, physically need it. Naps could do us all a world of wonder – providing we do them right. Sleep for too long and we wake up feeling groggy and lacking any sort of satisfaction, and sleep for too little and it’s like we never even tried. They take a sort of expert knack to crack, but with a little research you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time. It’s all to do with our natural sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythms; all you really need to know is that you want to get the timing right so you don’t mess with your internal body clock.
It takes a tremendous amount of willpower and sheer determination for a lot of us to even consider turning on the alarm clock for the next morning – or to even actually go to bed – because tearing our attention away from whatever activity is such a genuinely hard thing to do. If you feel as though you’re the kind of person that can survive on the most minimal amount of sleep, then I take my hat off to you for being able to achieve such a feat. But if you aren’t, and often refer to yourself as the ‘walking dead’ thanks to our local neighbourhood friendly demon – Mr Sleep Deprivation – then I urge you to take action. We are all capable of living a happy, healthy and well-rested life. Getting enough sleep – and not only that, actually appreciating it – is a lifestyle choice I’d greatly encourage. Even if you do live a high stress and hectic life, for just one moment a night think of yourself and the impact a well-rested you could have – anything is possible if you just dream.