Thangachi’s Corner: Early Birds and Night Owls

October 23, 2013

CTYA’s Blog has started a new Feature every other Wednesday called “Thangachi’s Corner”. “Thangachi’s Corner” is a comfortable space to discuss relatable topics and issues relevant to the Canadian Tamil youth of today. For more information about this feature or to suggest a topic, feel free to e-mail us at!

 night_owlWritten By: Keerthana Raveendran


It’s that time of year again. Midterms.

Ah, midterms, characterized by not only their long nights and early mornings, but by the dependency of coffee they force on us as well, reducing us to a state of sleep deprivation and binge study-eating to make up the difference.

The midterm season has begun.

Some of us, we’re night owls. We chug our caffeinated beverages and stay awake until the early hours of morning, finding progress in the still quiet of the dark once everyone is asleep. We set goals for ourselves and use sleep as a bribery tool, taunting our tired consciousness with the claim that the eyes can finally rest after one more chapter. Progress is a path to blissful reward.

And then there are early birds. We rise with the sun, or at least we claim to; we’re usually awake well before that golden orb makes its way across the horizon. We too work in the still quiet of the dark, but effective studying usually comes as a result of the sleep already sacrificed—If I’m going to wake up at this ungodly hour, I cannot let my precious sleep die in vain. Progress is then a valiant gesture avenging lost rest.

There is much controversy regarding whether it is more effective to be a night owl or an early bird, and while I can’t speak accurately to that, I can say this: seven to eight hours of sleep is not a luxury—it’s a necessity. And it’s probably in your best interest to claim them.

While it may seem more productive to lay a few hours of sleep to the wayside in favour of memorizing another chapter, you’re actually missing out on a great deal of potential for consolidation. Let’s take a look at why that is.

The sleep cycle is divided into two chunks—a period of non-REM sleep that is subsequently divided into four stages; and a period of REM, or Random Eye Movement sleep—this is when all of our dreams are constructed. While all stages of the sleep cycle have a role in the development of our brains, Stage II of that non-REM sleep is the one you’re going to want to get. It effectively puts all those hours you spent cramming to use. As it turns out, this stage consolidates long term declarative memories—that is, it reinforces the memorization of facts and figures. This way, when you wake up, you actually remember everything you learnt the night before, rather than feel as though your learning memory slipped away into unconsciousness the moment you opened your eyes.

So subjecting yourself to three hours of sleep before an exam? Probably not a good idea. You may find yourself waking up in a panic and reviewing your notes yet again. Sleep gives you an edge in that it helps you rely more on your long-term memory than your short-term memory, which is only going to help you in the long run.

During midterms, and the period of finals that follow all too soon, you are going to be doing a lot of studying. You will read a lot. You will have no social life. You will probably cry a little. But try not to sacrifice sleep if it can be avoided. After all, it is the furthest from being a waste of time.

Now that that’s over with, go ahead and take that as an excuse to take a nap.

Stage II of the sleep cycle and all.

About the Author:

Keerthana Raveendran, known by her flock as Thangachi, is an aspiring author with an eye for the eccentricities of the Tamil Canadian culture. As an unemployed student with a mountain load of student debt, she is currently broke, so you will probably be able to relate to her. As a writer, she has a special kind of wit that is present on the page and absent during the awkward conversations you tend have with her in person. Thangachi is currently a Masters student studying English at York University.

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