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Richson: Take time to take a break

BY BRIANNE RICHSON | SEPTEMBER 13, 2013 5:00 AM

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Plenty of college students stress and probably even lose a little sleep over their neglected classwork or the prospect of securing an internship pertinent to their career plans. The college grind inevitably lends itself to dead ends, general feelings of incompetency, maybe even the urge to throw your laptop out the window — all relevant preparation for a looming post-graduation job search, of course.

The prospects for college grads these days are rough, so those of us looking to secure a good job or internship are encouraged to work longer hours and push ourselves harder. We’re pushed to pursue a lifestyle that can be really unhealthy.

The darker side of top-rate business internships was exposed this summer with the Aug. 15 death of a 21-year-old Bank of America intern, after reportedly not sleeping for three nights, working diligently.

While this may serve as an extreme example of exhaustion and sleep deprivation, the tragedy does give rise to questions regarding dedicated college students’ sleep habits and larger implications of how we are trained to often ignore our physical health in favor of a “greater” goal: productivity.

College culture seems to lend itself to the notion that all-nighters are humorous, an endeavor that partakers take masochistic pride in completing the night before an exam or paper deadline. How many times have you received a delirious late-night library Snapchat from a friend?

As we can all learn from the death of the young, promising Bank of America investment banking intern, sleep deprivation isn’t always something to laugh about. Granted, there are blatant physical signs that should clue you in that maybe you should take a power nap, or a few.

The National Sleep Foundation notes that how much sleep a person needs derives from a variety of factors, including age and gender. We can also all take a moment to laugh a bit when the National Sleep Foundation defines sufficient sleep as “a sleep duration that is followed by a spontaneous awakening” … unlikely in the college life, which consists of daily schedules and incessantly counting down to the weekend. Time runs our lives in college. But we shouldn’t let it completely run our sleep schedule.

The CDC, however, does go so far as to put a number on how much sleep college students should get: seven to nine hours a day. The CDC also advises against all-nighters, unfortunately for those of us of the procrastinating breed, and cites insufficient sleep quite literally as a public-health epidemic.

Lack of sleep has also been linked to habits such as craving unhealthy foods, as well as causing a significant blow to the functioning of white blood cells. The body responds to sleep deprivation in much the same way it responds to stress; therefore, if you’re sleep-deprived and stressed, best of luck. You can potentially gain weight and get sick because of a struggling immune system.

Some of us choose to ignore the issue altogether and consume everything just short of an IV dripping coffee into our systems, but this is a temporary fix. Learn from the extreme yet tragic case of an intern who didn’t listen to his body … take a break


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