There are some days when you can't sleep. And then there are some days when you don't want to. Sometimes there are both.
When you can't sleep, you should try out something called Yog Nidra. Regardless of where you're at, you'll almost instantly fall down to sleep. I've been using a single guided sleep meditation for over 2 years now when I have trouble sleeping, and there has only been one instance when I've completed it. Every time otherwise, I've listened to it intently and fell asleep before it even finished.
If you don't want to sleep, well, who I am to tell you what to do? Although, you should keep in mind that sleeping instead of staying awake is almost every time worth it. You have an exam to prepare for, you'll most probably overload your brain and forget everything you've learnt in the morning, or even worse — everything altogether. Working with a sleepless brain makes you take stupid decisions, be irritable to others and yourself, and so much more. As a friend pointed out, since sleeping is a process equivalent to excreting all the waste your brain has accumulated, working on a sleepless brain is equivalent to running about without taking your morning dump, and that's terrible.
If you can't sleep and at the same time don't want to, you probably shouldn't. Chances are that its day time, and you are engaged in some routine work, which is very normal. There are also chances that you're awake in the middle of the night writing an article about sleep and your experiences with it, which is also okay, occasionally (huehuehue). Sometimes burning the midnight oil could also be healthy and can offer several benefits, such as
- Not having anyone around to disturb you
- You make sure that people around you aren't disturbed, so you do your shit
- Having some amazing ideas on a half-sleepy brain, your judgement-free, often romantic mode of thought switches on
Notice that I used the phrase burning the midnight oil and not anything else (I've even italicized it, but you're so dumb that you missed it). This means the activity should preferably be an active mode of creation: writing, composing music, drawing, programming, or anything related. I'm saying this from experience: staying up late to scroll through Instagram or completing that Netflix show is seldom a good idea.
All in all, sleep hygiene is important, but there should be some leeway for some of those wonderful nights. They should necessarily be sparse because the excess of these wonderful nights will bring about a sharp reduction in the wonder associated, according to the famous Law of Diminishing Returns.
As for how many hours should one sleep, I believe the magic number could be anything between 6-12 hours (or maybe even less). I have a regular 7-8 hour sleep, but I don't believe it should be the case with everyone. There are many people who I know operate on a much lower sleep quota and are doing good. Similarly, there are people with a higher sleep quota, too and do just as fine. You have to experiment to find your zone.
I've been struggling to get my lazy ass to read the famous Why We Sleep by Dr Mathew Walker, but some (qualified) critics have pointed out that the data is somewhat skewed to fulfil the author's prophecy. I'm no expert to battle an expert, but again, in a moderately low-risk situation such as this one, I'd go with my little but trusty experience and build on top of that. (At some point in my life, I was also interested in polyphasic sleep, and I personally found it to be a poor ROI effort on what it offers overall.)
It's 3 AM already. I should better go to sleep now.