University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Insomnia and the student

Freya Marshall Payne

ByFreya Marshall Payne

Nov 12, 2015

It’s a common stereotype that the student is familiar with all-nighters, sleeping in and basically working on a different schedule to the rest of society. But where’s the line between the hecticness of student deadline week and actual sleep disorders?

Like any other ailment of the brain, if it’s not happening to you it can be hard to relate to. With insomnia at least it can be just as hard to explain, but often is a missing link between tiredness and sleep.

We are met with a constant barrage of information on the importance of getting enough high quality sleep at a regular time. The problem is some methods work once or twice, but sleep is something you must dedicate half your life to, every night the struggle starts again. When you have nothing else in your schedule, or a set routine it’s easier to work on the issue. However the student lifestyle is too often unpredictable, with irregular timetables and assessments come in harrowing spurts.

Students who engage in atypical sleep cycles can often impressively work around it. Maria, a third year Sussex student, questioned: ‘Why would you attempt sleep when you could be productive? I go to bed when I’m not just tired, but exhausted.

‘Some people are just early morning people. I’m a night person, the day time stresses me out.’

Being awake at the strangest hours gives you access to a world many don’t care to visit. At a certain point the streets are silent and the roads are empty, and it can give you a feeling of quiet exhilaration walking around at this bewitching time. While caution is still recommended, thankfully Brighton is unusually safe for a city during the night as long as your wits are about you – stay safe out there kids!

If you do find yourself wide awake why not experience the library in its most peaceful state? If your body clock tells you that you work best at a certain hour, then if the university library’s open (which it usually is) there will be others that are there even in the early hours for their own reasons.

Of course these are the few positives so a rather distressing subject.

‘Perhaps it has affected my concentration,’ Maria continues. Getting to class is a fight: ‘You open your eyes and you’re very, very tired but don’t want to miss things’. It’s too easy to find yourself missing chunks of daily life – and it can be too embarrassing an explanation for tardiness.

There is even a point where it becomes easier (say around 5am) to just stay awake, than suffer through the painful and occasionally unsuccessful process of waking up from the most unsatisfying of sleeps – at this point you still have enough time to superfluously prepare for the day ahead that perhaps people won’t notice a slight zombification in demeanour.

Good sleep hygiene is never overrated and it’s not too late to get into a good habit. Even if you feel like you’ve tried it all before, there’s a wealth of advice online and the University offers advice services both online and in-person, designed to help you with exactly this kind of issue.

However if you ever need to get through the day, splash some cold water on your face and declare ‘sleep is for the weak!’

Alice Nettleship

Image by Tomas Maltby

Freya Marshall Payne

By Freya Marshall Payne

Editor-in-Chief. Freya also works on a radio show for Platform B, "Off the Fence", and has freelanced for local newspapers. Freya was previously the Badger's News Editor, and while at sixth form college she founded a student newspaper, The Cymbal. Twitter:

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