When You Can’t Sleep (On These Redhawks)


By Abby Frazee and Abby Frazee

Once in awhile, you may desire to have an “early night.” At 10 P.M., you have the power to overcome your addiction to Netflix and instead hit the hay. Why is it, for me at least, that these are always the nights you can never sleep?

At 12 in the morning, you lie there thinking about what it meant when that certain person gave you a certain look, or about the future of earth as we know it.

Now it’s one in the morning, and instead of entering your Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, a deep stage sleep and vivid dreaming, you have figured out your summer plans five years in advance.

Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the whole night. Insomnia may last briefly for some, and for others it’s a chronic illness. The negative impacts of insomnia are that of a bad night’s sleep- fatigue, trouble concentrating, mood disturbance, and increased accidents during the day.

A study presented by Sleep Education, an organization researching the health benefits of sleep, estimated that lack of sleep causes an employee to lose eight days of work performance yearly. This causes an estimated $63 million dip in the nation’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) compared to if employees could get the recommended amount of sleep.

Insomnia’s effect on people’s well being varies in severity, but bottom line, it sucks the life out of you. There are correct and incorrect ways to deal with it, but for some there is absolutely nothing that can be done.

When asking students for their reaction to a bad night’s sleep, most explained how frustrated they get. Sophomore Elli Mulkey said, “I start to hyperventilate and panic.” Junior Libby Anderson said, “I thrash around in bed, sometimes I’ll cry if it gets really bad.” It is understandable to get frustrated when one struggles to get some “shut eye,” so the question is, what do you do?

Students explained their personal cures to a bad night’s sleep and the most common answer was not a reassuring one. “I go on my phone [when I cannot sleep]. It’s the worst thing to do, but it’s what I do,” said Junior Lily Wyle.

Freshman Lillian Penther and Mulkey reported the same habit, and I’m sure the two are not alone.

Though the holy iPhone may provide comfort, research has shown that it is not the best choice before going to bed. According to National Sleep Foundation, blue light emitted from phones disrupts the production of melatonin, the hormone which controls the body’s circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle. Going on one’s phone causes the brain to remain alert, the opposite reaction one would want for their brain before bed. The phone provides endless distractions, social media stimulation, and thanks to phone addiction, is practically impossible to put down.

Luckily, there is a more effective approach to falling asleep than the phone, and is also fairly common among students.

Penther said she listens to music.

“I sometimes read a boring book,” said junior Ali Rolnick.

These remedies tire the brain out without the stimulation of the phone. Whether the voice of one’s favorite singer soothes, or the lines of an ancient book makes it impossible to keep one’s eyes open, it all can help in getting to sleep.

Junior Maia Ciambriello explained her in depth process of creating a happy story in her head, which distracts her from her stresses while simultaneously tiring her brain out.

“I have to make sure to be very careful about what I think about, or I’ll return to consciousness,” Ciambriello said.

For those that can’t turn to distraction for sleep, it may be time to turn to medicine. The simplest solution is taking melatonin, the hormone which controls the natural sleep cycle. It is sold over the counter and it is relatively harmless when taken as directed. If one’s insomnia is severe, medical remedies such as cognitive behavioral therapy or prescribed sleeping pills may be the most effective.

Sleep is an often undervalued treasure of life. It’s so important, yet as one gets older their average hours of sleep dip dangerously. Sleep feels incredibly satisfying, but it is also vital to emotional and physical health. We have all suffered a few bad nights, and luckily there are tricks to make it better. For those suffering more severe insomnia, they may need to put a lot of effort into finding the cure to never ending restlessness. Sleep tight, you may never know when the next bad night is coming.