Starting at Night

Pedro Almeida - February 7th 2022

The beginning of a new year is an interesting cross-point. Around a month ago, people started setting goals for themselves, New Year resolutions they hope to achieve and continually work on throughout the year so they can look back at their progress and feel a sense of accomplishment. BUT, there is one aspect of our lives that can be targeted to yield great improvements, with a small amount of change, meaning that if our goal, our resolution, was to improve this one area of our lives we could see the full results of this change, quite literally without lifting a finger.

What else could I be referring to if not what we should spend a third of our time doing… sleeping!

We all know the world we live in is nothing like anything ever seen before. One hundred years ago, much of the technological advancements we take for granted today were far from ideas as their precursors were still in development. However, with great modernity comes new daily responsibilities. With the increased spread of information, there has also been an increase in competitiveness across different fields and levels of education (Bound et al.).

In short, stress is high and as I experienced myself when I was in high school, one of the first things we sacrifice to respond to this higher stress is our sleep. Dr. Matthew Walker describes this issue in his book Why We Sleep, along with many other causes of abandoning sleep, showing how long before COVID-19, we were in a different world-wide modern pandemic, one of sleep deprivation.

(Small side-note: Dr. Walker does a great job explaining how sleep deprivation affects us, much better than I could if I were to try, so for a great night time read I would suggest getting your hands on this book.)

What is most important to take away from this is that as Dr. Walker describes, the more we sleep and the better the quality of our sleep, the more we can learn and remember, which allows us to relieve a little bit of that stress we all experience. So what is the first step? Well it all begins with you. Little changes day-by-day can help improve your sleep. Below are four suggestions, some of which Dr. Walker talks about and some of which I have found help me in my daily life:

1) Routine: set your routine so that you wake up and go to bed at similar times. Over time this makes it easier for you to fall asleep at a set time, so that you can plan to spend eight quality hours asleep without wasting too much time in bed bored because your body keeps you awake.

2) Exercise: if you can fit in some exercise during the day (for me that is running), I find this can lead you to exhaust your body in a healthy way, so that when night-time comes you are ready to rest.

3) Manage your activities: change the order of what you do to minimize screen time right before bed. This might mean you print reading instead of reading them on the computer or you use a couple of hours before bed to read a book for fun.

4) Sleep room: make your bedroom the place you rest, try doing school work or going on your phone outside your bed so your brain grows to associate only sleep with that space.

Best of luck friends, I hope this helped and most of all I hope you all have a great night!

Sources: Bound, John, et al. “Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 23, no. 4, 2009, pp. 119–146.,