To Sleep Or Not To Sleep?




From an early age, people in America are taught that being busy is good. The more you do in a day, the better; in fact, it even means you are a more interesting person because you are busy. While this means people are participating more in academics, extracurriculars, and their jobs, it also means that people have less free time. This decrease in spare time results in people scrabbling to find the time to hang out with friends, relax, exercise, and sometimes even eat. So, in order to juggle everything that society demands of them, people are finding activities in their lives to limit or eliminate in order to fit everything else into a mere twenty-four hours. Unfortunately, most people choose to get less sleep.

A decrease in the amount of sleep one gets can have very negative impacts on the person’s life. For example, plenty of articles have stated that a lack of sleep can cause relationship stress, an increase in the chance of getting sick or developing cancer, a lack of alertness, an increase in depression and/or anxiety, and a decrease in quality of life. It can even cause people to gain more weight. Two articles in particular mention how a lack of sleep can influence people’s ability to think, which results in them making mistakes, some of which are minor, and others are life-changing.

An article on WebMD ( states that sleep improves memory and learning capabilities. In order to defend their statement, they mentioned the fact that when people are sleep deprived, they feel foggy. They say this is because of the following three main reasons:

  1. Being tired causes you to process your thoughts slower. This is because sleep deprivation makes it harder to stay alert and concentrate, making you more easily confused and therefore hindering your ability to do certain tasks. Being tired also impairs judgment and makes it hard to make decisions.
  2. Lacking excessive sleep hurts your memory. Research suggests that the nerve connections which help make our memories are reinforced during sleep. On top of that, it being hard to stay focused further weakens your capabilities of remembering things.
  3. Bad or little sleep can make learning difficult. Because you cannot focus as well when you are tired than when you are awake, it is harder to pay attention and therefore harder to learn. And because being tired affects your memory, it makes remembering what you do manage to learn harder.

The WebMD finishes the main section of its article with what they seem to believe to be the most significant effect that being sleep deprived has on a person: a slowed reaction time. They state the fact that at least 100,000 car crashes every year are because of drivers falling asleep at the wheel or simply being tired and having a slower reaction time. This, they note, makes up 20% of all car accidents.

For the last few paragraphs, the article mentions one last negative effect that being tired can have on someone and they gave a tip on how to tell if sleepiness is a problem or not for their readers. At first glance, this article seemed very well done. It was nicely written, well organized, and had several quotes from reputable sources. However, the WebMD did not mention how they knew that being sleep deprived was the cause of all these negative things people were going through in their lives, and therefore does not seem to be backed up by research.

In order to try to find some actual science supporting WebMD article’s claim, I turned to peer-reviewed journal articles. There was one (Paynet: that I found that studied the effects of sleep deprivation on item and associative recognition memory. This article described a study that had 26 participants, ages 22-37 years old, all of whom were physically and psychologically healthy, and free of drugs. For a week before the experiment, subjects had to sleep between 6 and 10 hours a night, log their sleep schedule, avoid taking naps, not drink, or use drugs or caffeine. From there, the subject spent six consecutive nights at the lab. All subjects were randomized into a total sleep deprivation condition or a control condition. Starting on day 3 at the lab, the experimental condition group stayed awake for 62 hours. At 9 hours awake, they took a baseline test and at 57 hours awake they took their second test. After two recovery nights with ten hours of sleep each night, they took their recovery test. Those in the control group took tests at the same times but had ten hours of sleep every night.

The results were significant. For the baseline and recovery test, both item recognition and associative recognition accuracy levels were about the same for the two groups. However, the sleep deprived group showed a huge drop in accuracy, relative to the control subjects, on the second test. There was no significant difference between the two groups on the second test for reaction time.

The results found in this study support most of the facts brought forth in the WebMD article. It does raise a concern about whether or not having slower reaction times because you’re tired is the reason why people get in more accidents when they are sleep deprived, but the rest of the data does seem to line up.

Overall, this study was very well done. The journal article was well-organized and appropriately reported the experiment that was done. That being said, it was very disappointing to see how small their subject size was.

I believe this topic is really important to further research and discuss; because as our society is involving, people are getting less and less sleep. Unfortunately, not only are the effects of sleep deprivation interesting, they could potentially be detrimental to our society, as many of the effects are seeming to affect people in bad ways, and according to some articles, have been the cause of some deadly car accidents.

So, everyone, please get some sleep!

14 thoughts on “To Sleep Or Not To Sleep?

  1. sierrahorton

    Hi, I think this was a great first blog post! First off, I was drawn to your post because of the clever meme you included at the beginning. It is very funny, but it also aligns well with the topic that you chose. The other memes you included also helped to keep my attention and relate to sleep. Along with this nice visual interest, I also really enjoyed the way you organized the main points of the WebMD article by using a bullet-pointed number layout and making the main points in each of these bullets bold. Besides the layout, I also really enjoyed the content of your post. I felt that you did a great job introducing sleep and how, as a society prone to over-productivity, we often neglect this crucial part of life. I also like how you summarized each article and stated their main objectives. In particular, I find it interesting, but also quite predictable, that the sleep deprived group in the study that you mentioned scored significantly lower in accuracy of reaction times compared to the other groups. I would be interested in seeing a study of how this decreased reaction time affects things like car accidents, just as you mentioned. Toward the end of the article, my favorite part is how you tied this research and topic of sleep into the relevancy of our everyday lives and shared your opinion of how important sleep is! What would you recommend for individuals who feel that cutting down on sleep is the only way to continue to be successful in all areas of their life (including school, sports, and a social life)?

    1. nboigegrain Post author

      Thank you so much for the compliments! I really enjoyed looking around on google for the memes, definitely provided me with some laughs. As far as what I would recommend for people who feel that cutting down on sleep is the only way to continue to be successful in all areas of their life is to remember that in order to be successful, you need to be healthy and to be able to do your best. And eventually, missing sleep will cause you to not only make mistakes, sometimes big ones, but also may cause you to get sick, which as college students, we know can really really suck.

  2. kmarston

    I completely agree with Sierra, I love the use of your memes in this! I always find sleep studies interesting, especially since the roommates I live with have narcolepsy and a sleep imbalance as a symptom of her depression respectively. They can sleep hours on end, fall asleep at seemingly inconvenient times and they often get exhausted easily and definitely exhibit slower response reactions and confusion when they feel tired. In comparison to them I have OCD and GAD, so I am constantly on the go and I feel anxious if I’m not actively doing something. On top of that I am on the rowing team, so I have to get up at 4:30 in the morning six days a week to go to practices. On average I get about 6 hours of sleep every day, often less. I’ve definitely noticed myself perform worse during practices whenever I’m tired, however I’ve never personally noticed myself perform worse in everyday life due to lack of sleep. Rather I get crankier and more stressed out and I eventually reach a point where I become so overwhelmed from exhaustion that I can’t do anything- school, crew, etc.- until I have properly rested up. I’m kind of curious if there are any comparison studies that exist for people who have sleep disorders like my roommates, the average person and people like me who are fueled by anxiety and eventually burnout. I think it would be interesting to examine how different disorders change with lack of sleep and if these are similar or different from the average, neurotypical person.

    1. nboigegrain Post author

      Wow…it seems like you and your roommates have it tough 🙁 I hope you guys have a system down pat that allows you guys to live your best life! As far as you not performing as well with your rowing when you are tired, during high school I felt the same way about my swimming! And I definitely thinking researching different disorders with sleep deprivation would be interesting

  3. chayes

    I can very much relate to this. When my day is busy and I feel like I have so many things to do, a lot of the time sleep is what I give up. When in reality I should value that more over that something off of my check list. I can defiantly feel the results of a lack of sleep on my memory. A lot of the times when I go to study and I haven’t had a lot of sleep, I will not retain information nor will I focus as hard as I would if I had more sleep under my belt. Sleep is an important factor to our memory and your blog post does a great job of making that known.

    1. nboigegrain Post author

      Sleep is definitely important! I personally don’t retain information or focus when I am sleep deprived, in fact, I often feel like I am losing my mind!

  4. cgiunta

    I enjoyed this blog post! It is so relatable. It makes a lot of sense that running on little sleep can slow down thinking, and response time. I read somewhere that we still don’t know why humans need to sleep. They say that adult needs at least 8 hours of sleep to function normally. I am not going to argue with science but most of the time I need more than 8 hours of sleep haha. Great post!

  5. angietc5

    I thought this article was really interesting and relatable. I know that as college students we have so much going on that sleep is something we sacrifice weekly in order to get everything done. Between homework, studying, social lives, staying in shape etc. everything seems like a necessity. The easiest thing to sacrifice is sleep, sleeping for 6 hours instead of 10. I didn’t realize how essential sleep was until I read about the study, and I’ll try to do a better job prioritizing sleep.

  6. alee9

    The irony isn’t lost on me – I’m posting this past midnight on a weeknight – but this is definitely something I can relate to. I’ve been able to cut back on the habit of pulling all-nighters, which was something that happened a lot in my last two years of high school, but I still regularly stay up later than I intend to trying to finish one last bit of work. I find myself most productive at the end of the day, but I know that the quality of my work begins to decline once I’m past my natural bedtime, especially if I’m trying to cram in last-minute studying for a test.

    1. nboigegrain Post author

      Even though I wrote about getting enough sleep, I almost never do. So don’t feel bad! I also feel myself being most productive at nighttime so I keep telling myself one more thing and it never is one more thing…I find that putting a time restraint on myself works for me!

  7. lhannah

    This post was well developed! I was intrigued by the pictures you included and your clever title. This post was particularly interesting to me because I have been getting much less sleep in the past week due to exams and mid-semester projects that I have procrastinated on. The WebMD article was super interesting because I didn’t know that 20 percent of car accidents were a result of people falling asleep at the wheel or having slower reaction time due to sleep deprivation. You made a good point about how our society puts so much value in being busy that we often harm ourselves by not getting much sleep as a result. I definitely fall into that category when it comes to class credits and extracurricular activities. I tend to overload my schedule because I want to be able to do everything to keep my life at high value which results in me burning myself out because I can’t sleep as much! I didn’t even think about how dangerous is could be to other people when I drive after a long night of studying with no sleep. I really enjoyed how you included the peer reviewed article because it added a sense of legitimacy to the topic you chose. WebMD isn’t the most credible source, but you backed it with the perfect scholarly article. I found the study in the peer reviewed article to be super interesting; however, how were they ethically able to deprive people of sleep? Overall, this was a great post.

  8. jmzm

    I think it is extremely important that you recognized that in America (and western cultures as a whole) it is important for people to push to be busy to be seen as successful people in our society. I know there are times I feel so busy and have so much to do that sleep seems to end up not getting the attention it needs.
    In other classes such as my biopsychology class, we talked about how people keeping their circadian rhythms (the body’s natural clock) in routine is really important and can throw the body off if not followed. So it’s really important to try to get up and go to sleep around the same time everyday!
    Going off of another comment, it is true that we still cannot find a reason as to why we sleep specifically. Same with dreams – we know we need sleep and we know it is important, but no one knows why yet.

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