It's 1:00 am. Although this hour is generally considered midnight, the day basically started for Fuad (pseudonym). While he's trying to complete his assignment, his friends are playing a round of Valorant (computer game). These days, this is a familiar Gen Z story in our country and the world at large. Ironically, after daily online classes and other chores, the writer also wrote this article late at night. Like this, most members of Gen Z, a generation usually considered to be born between the 1990s to 2010s who are currently the youngest generation at workplaces, either sleep in the morning when the environment is not at all friendly for sleeping or they end up being habituated to sleeping less every day. However, science and medical studies suggest this to be a very unhealthy habit, and it can permanently impact the health of the entire generation.
Then why did the Zoomers gradually adopt this trend? The first reason that answers this is the skyrocketed usage of social media. Generation Z was born in the extraordinary era of the internet revolution; using technological devices and social media is almost like in this generations' blood. But the adverse effect of these devices like laptops, smartphones, and tabs blocks the emission of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Along with social media comes peer pressure, motivation to have freedom, personal space, etc. adds to the list of why Gen Z youths prefer staying up late.
Is it ever possible for a Gen Z person to come out of this cycle? Although it is challenging to find Gen Z members with healthy sleeping habits, three extraordinary people were found after much scrutinisation.
Marilyn Dip, a sixth semester CSE student at North South University, who once had this bad habit of staying up late hours, has mastered the magic spell of being in a routine. "Yes, there was a point when I had this awful habit of staying up late almost every night mostly because, at night, I felt that I could work better without distractions and enjoyed the peacefulness of the night," she said. What changed Marylin's mind was when she noticed that her health began to deteriorate, and she was losing out of REM sleep which brought constant drowsiness throughout the day. Marylin shared her feeling after changing the schedule, "In the wake of realising, it was really tough for me to change my entire day's plan, but as I started pushing myself, I noticed something that may seem nonsensical to many people: the days seemed longer, and I was more productive."
A significant aspect to notice in this regard is that the pandemic influenced this unconventional sleeping cycle even more. The explanation behind this is that the abrupt closing of physical classes and workplaces has opened room for time flexibility which was invested in getting ready and reaching destinations. The unprecedented situation had a lot of impact on everyone's mental health and reduced physical activities, which in turn caused reduced sleep hours for many.
For this, getting back to physical classes can be a great way of hopping back to usual healthy sleeping cycles. Mubashshira Tasnim, a first-year student at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, portrays that going back to university dorms far away from home has pushed her back to the regular sleep routine. Mubashshira said, "9-5 regular classes and lab, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, after all these activities throughout the day, it is hard to keep my eyes open after 11 pm. Again, for completing lessons and lab reports, waking up at 7 am becomes a necessity." Her scenario screams at us that when we are 'bound' with all our regular activities that include enough physical efforts, sleep falls in its schedule naturally.
Partha Modak, a second-year student at IBA, University of Dhaka, a transformed Gen Z person from a Netflix binger night-owl to a routine sleeper early-bird, brings us to the ultimate revelation about fixing sleep schedule. When binging on Netflix shows and scrolling socials dropped his grades and harmed his health visibly, he decided to take some strict measures, "Switching off all my devices at least an hour prior to my sleep hours, making a to-do list for the next day, writing in my journal, reading a few pages of a book and doing some skincare regimen regularly at night before sleeping, helped me remarkably in maintaining the healthy sleep cycle."
Following these steps gave Partha a sense of order and normalcy during the pandemic and improved both his health and academics.
On the whole, as the pandemic situation is getting better day by day and we are at the transition point of entering a post-pandemic life, Gen Z can try putting some effort into trying to bring their sleep schedule to a healthy one for their own good. Indeed, Gen Z youths cannot put their well-being at stake, can they?
The writer is a sophomore at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka.