Saturday, August 30, 2014

Perchance to dream and so much more

I am preparing to send my youngest off to college in the next few days. As I help him buy, sort and pack, I am trying to decide what essential tips for collegiate (and lifelong) success to share. Of course, I won't spring anything on him that I haven't told him before. He will have far too many "new" things to process for me to add one more. But of all the motherly wisdom I have shared over the years, what should I put at the top of my list?

I think it will be "Get Some Sleep." He has certainly been doing that already (a lot!) this summer, so it shouldn't be too hard. Or will it? I remember, dimly, the excitement of those first weeks of living away from home for the first time, and wanting to be everywhere doing everything with everyone, even into the wee hours. Such a widespread feeling has its own acronym now: FOMO, for Fear Of Missing Out.

But sleep is a neccesary restorative--a time to dream, as well as a time to consolidate memories. And a recent article published in Scientific American cites fascinating new research (originally published July 16 in Psychological Science) that indicates lack of sleep is associated with false memories: "when researchers compared the memory of people who'd had a good night's sleep with the memory of those who hadn't slept at all, they found that, under certain conditions, sleep-deprived individuals mix fact with imagination, embellish events and even "remember" things that never actually happened."

Throughout high school I encouraged my son to get a good night's sleep as a relatively easy strategy for doing well on upcoming tests. But now, as he heads off on his own adventure, I think the clear-headedness that comes only from being fully rested will benefit more than just his academic life. With new friendships being built, bonds of trust being tested, and his own evolving idea of "self"  called into question, he will need sound judgment. His reasoning will need to be based on accurate information--true, accurate memories, not false ones.

It's not just college students who could use that reminder! As we bid a fond adieu to the relaxing days of summer, let's all take some of its equilibrium with us as we gear up for the "fall frenzy." The days are getting shorter, after all. Why not take nature's cue and turn in a bit earlier?

No comments:

Post a Comment