The Story

How Sleep Can Mess You Up


Advice, Startup Life

We’re all in school.  Among homework, class, running our business and what’s left of our social life, sleep doesn’t get much attention.  Personally, I’m happy if I hit 6 hours a night during the semester.  But apparently it’s bad for your body outside of the whole being tired thing (which I’m getting a little tired of).

It screws with your ability to learn, memorize and solve problems critically.  And that just sounds bad.  People need roughly 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night for their body to hit that refresh button.  “In the first four hours of an eight-hour sleep, we spend more time in slow-wave sleep, when we get most of our hormonal balancing, tissue repair and physical replenishment,” says Patty Tucker, a sleep specialist.  “It’s not until the second half of a full night’s sleep that our brain functions get priority. Memory and learning are consolidated during REM sleep. Very good studies from Stanford, the University of Chicago and others show that learning consolidation requires a full night of sleep.”

It messes with your ability to make ethical decisions.  While at the U of I, everyone knows that KAM’s is the number one source of messing with ethical decisions, sleep is definitely up there.  “Studies have proven that ethical decision making is changed by sleep deprivation,” reports Tucker. “In general, sleep deprived people are unable to understand the nuances required to make fair decisions. Their responses tend to be more rigid and inflexible.”

It legitimately ruins your ability to be creative and innovative.  “Dreams [during REM sleep] spark innovation through out-of-the-world thinking. In the process they help you create a world on your own terms,” says Yatin J. Patel, M.D., another sleep specialist.  Tons of people have gotten up in the morning able to solve the problems they were grappling with last night.  Paul McCartney says that he woke up one day and had the tune to Yesterday in his head, and then proceeded to write it down.

Chances are you’re reading this either in class or in your room and it’s kinda late.  Either way, you should definitely consider taking a nap.

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About Author

Nate started Yellow Box Studios, a digital advertising agency based in Chicago, in 2010 as a high school senior. He's graduated from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign with a degree in Creative Writing and is currently working on a Masters in advertising, also at the University of Illinois.