Sleep is as basic a need as food.
No college student would go two days without a meal. Yet many
frequently pull all-nighters. These students suffer from sleep
deprivation, and it affects their physical and mental state reducing
their ability to study as much as, or more than, not eating.
Most sleep loss affecting college students is because of poor
sleeping habits or stress, or both, according to Susan Sherbune,
technical supervisor of sleep disorders at Enloe Hospital in
California. Sleep is not a top priority for students, whose
traditional twin priorities of partying and academics combine
to create poor
sleeping habits. Add everyday college stress to habitual late
hours, and sleep deprivation turns into an epidemic at universities.
Jane (last name withheld by request), a junior at HPU, describes
a pattern typical of many college students: “I stay up
and study one night, thinking that if I just get though the day
I can go to sleep early. Then, when that night comes, I end up
staying up again for some other project. Then when the weekend
comes, I don’t want to stay in. I want to go out. I usually
stay up late.” This results in sleep deprivation and what
is known as “sleep debt.” And it can adversely affect
an individual’s performance.
As indicated by Sherburne, during sleep the brain re- energizes
itself, storing away information from the day before and getting
the body ready for the next day. She suggests eight to nine
hours of sleep a night.
Sleep debt occurs when hours of sleep are lost each night and
build up to one big sleep debt. Making up this sleep debt over
the weekend does not necessarily help because the debt is far
too big. Many of us still feel tired on Monday morning after
a weekend of rest. A sure sign of sleep deprivation is pressing
snooze on the alarm clock. When it is getting enough sleep,
the body needs, it wakes up without the help of an alarm clock.
Fred Danner, professor and chair of educational and counseling
psychology at the University of Kentucky College of Education
explains that “Students who roughly get six hours of sleep
a night get lower grades and are more likely to suffer from depression
and anxiety.” Other effects of lack of sleep are shortened
temper, lower motivation, and slower reflexes, Danner said.
Every college student has experienced (almost?) falling asleep
in class. Without enough sleep, the brain can’t concentrate
on learning because it is concentrating on sleeping, as soon
Studying is best done when fully awake with no need for stimulants
such as caffeine or drugs. Yet many college students cram late
at night. If the studying were done in the afternoon, much
more information would be remembered, according to Sherburne.
One solution to this problem is time management and making
sleep the same high priority as eating and drinking. In the
long run, a balance of sleep, study,
and play is needed. However, it is important to schedule adequate sleep especially
during times when your brain needs to be working at top efficiency such as
exam weeks. Cut back on extra curricular activities or even
study time, but get a
good night’s sleep every night.
Students who are having trouble falling asleep should cut caffeine
intake at night and not use the bed as a place to study or
watch TV. Reserving the bed
for sleep lets the body know that when in bed it is supposed to fall asleep.
Some natural products, such as chamomile tea enhance sleepiness.
There is anecdotal evidence that a room spray called Zzz
Therapy, made by The Healing Garden,
which uses chamomile and vanilla, improves sleep. And at least one HPU faculty
has had success with yoga techniques. There are also numerous pharmaceuticals,
but before using these, one should consult a physician.
Don’t let lack of sleep affect your moods and academic performance. Make
time to sleep. Your body and mind will thank you and your grades will show