Getting rid of the monster in your room: The science of sleep

By Caroline Cho

11:30 p.m. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

12:45 a.m. Tick. Tock. Tick.

3:00 a.m. Tick. Tock.

Sitting uncomfortably, you rub your eyes. In front of you lies a blank paper, taunting you with its emptiness. Minutes pass by and then hours. Pencil in hand, you squirm and struggle as the stress of schoolwork piles like a mountain of boulders.

Then you notice that you’re working in a cramped, disorganized room. That doesn’t help.

To some, messy rooms may signify a creative personality. Others say that messy rooms convey innate intelligence or brilliance. But the fact of the matter is that the clutter can be adding to daily stress levels.

In fact, researchers at Pennsylvania State University conducted a social experiment concerning the psychological effects that messiness plays on sleep, on habits that reflect good sleeping patterns (such as putting away electronic devices before sleeping or blocking out distracting noises while sleeping).

In the analysis of the data, psychologist Sherrie Carter revealed that approximately one-third of the test group were noted at risk for developing a hoarding disorder, similar to a person described as a “pack-rat.” That means that the messiness is a cycle that will continue as the person accumulates more things.

This same group also had increased difficulty sleeping at night, which led researchers to conclude that messiness can affect sleeping patterns. Being messy affects our mood, distracting us throughout the day. That distraction can make it difficult for people to sleep. This same clutter can also affect stress levels, and we all know how easily stress keeps us from sleeping.

In order to maintain a healthy sleep pattern, then, we need to de-clutter so that we can de-stress. Here are few steps that anyone can integrate into his or her daily life:

  • Fold clothes in a clean, organized way, and put clothes away consistently.
  • Keep your living space relatively organized and clutter-free. Establish a routine where you clean up your room every other day or at least every week.
  • Put away all electronic devices about thirty minutes before sleeping. Keep your brain less cluttered and give yourself time to turn your brain off.

Remember that healthy sleeping habits (adolescents should get at least eight hours a day) can have a big impact on your life, especially as an adolescent in school. More sleep means that you will be more focused and more capable of fulfilling your potential at school.

Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper

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