Don’t Stress Yourself; You’ll Sleep

Studies show rats sleep better when they’re stressed and young students that can handle stress sleep deep
Rahman Mohamedbed

So you’ve stayed up a long time cramming and you’re tired? According to a recent study Social stress induces high intensity sleep in rats, led by Peter Meerlo, published by the Zoological Laboratory, University Groningen in Neuroscience Letters (1997), more stress means more sleep; if you want to be able to deal with stress you have to sleep.

Seriously. They say that they don’t know the true “function of sleep” (41). Meerlo and his friends believe sleep is the recovery process of the central nervous system, but what isn’t known is what happens in the brain while it’s awake that it needs to recover. But snoozing (not necessarily snoring) is necessary to continue life. According to research on the rats the intensity of the sleep worked better in helping them pay of an increased sleep-debt (being forced to stay awake for a long time) instead of sleeping for a long time. The rat research says that if you’re stressed you’ll be less likely to sleep and therefore have an easier time following asleep.

A study conducted on young humans by the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine, published in Journal for Adolescent Health (2014), says the tougher your mind, the more control you have over stress, the better your sleep. It says that “Improving . . . mental toughness might also improve . . . sleep, and vice versa.” (109); the more resilient you are to stress – confident, committed, challenging, and in control – the deeper your sleep.

According to the study: the tougher an adolescent’s mind, the deeper the sleep. Not only that your eyes are moving more while you’re sleeping (more REM sleep) and less likely to wake up while you sleep.

Why can’t everyone with a tough mind sleep deep? They’re scared to sleep, dysfunctional thoughts like thinking sleep won’t come and not being rested the next day.

How was the study done? After completing a questionnaire, qualifying participants were paid to undergo a sleep scan, an EEG to measure their “mental toughness”. Researchers’ eyes were closed, even though they were awake, while they analyzed the results since they didn’t know what group the sleepers were in (how tough their minds were according to the questionnaire).

The mental toughness study participant sample was late adolescence – high school seniors and first-years – but fourth-years experience the same; they still need tough minds because they have to deal with the challenge of writing exams and have to be confident to deal with parents to give reasoning for coming home past curfew.

So if you’re counting down the days to the end of the semester but confident you’ll be able to make it to a library in time to find an empty chair or computer so you can commit enough time to study for that challenging final you know you can deal with (the ones you know you love), and know you have control over when you can take a break and go to the bathroom, congratulations! You have a super strong stressed mind!

Have no fear, sleep is near and it’ll be deep! Stressed rats can sleep and so can you!


First published in MacMedia, Volume 19, Issue 7, page 11

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