I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 16:03
As many college students say, you can’t sleep, study and have a social life. You have to pick two. Most students will say sleep is not one of their top choices. Maintaining scholarship requirements and a social life are among the top priorities.
In order to maintain a healthy sleep pattern, the National Sleep Foundation suggests adults receive seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
Hours of sleep a night vary based on genetic and physiological factors as well as age and gender. According to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the University of St. Thomas in Minn. found that 70 percent of college students do not get more than eight hours of sleep a night.
Director of the ASU Counseling Center, Dr. Phil Hestand said lack of sleep can cause several different problems for students.
“Lack of sleep can cause emotional, physical and psychological issues,” Hestand said. “If a person misses one night of sleep, he would mostly be alright. He might not be able to pay attention as well or be able to recall information on a test, but he wouldn’t be in any serious danger. I am also a teacher and have witnessed several students who have fallen asleep in my class, and you just know they aren’t learning anything that day and won’t be able to do as well on the test.”
Short-term effects of not sleeping can cause students to forget items they just learned in class. The ability to pay attention in class could be slightly less than it would be if they would have received a full night’s rest.
“People who don’t receive the right amount of sleep might not be able to stay focused,” Hestand said. “Their ability to drive could become impaired making them a hazard on the road.”
Not getting the full eight hours of sleep every now and then might not hurt oneself too much, but going several days or even weeks without sleep can cause long-term issues; Issues such as getting sick more, experiencing hallucinations and even depression.
“Students, well anyone who goes long periods of time without sleep, will eventually develop some health issues such as their immune system failing,” Hestand said. “Not enough sleep can cause stress on the body and brain, as well as the ability to actually manage outside stress such as academics or family stress. People will actually start dreaming while their eyes are open from lack of sleep. This is a very serious problem.”
Causes of sleep deprivation can vary from one person to another. It could be from insomnia, stress, too much noise present, distractions such as computers and cellphones, staying awake to study or staying out late with friends.
“When students come in with sleeping problems, we try to figure out what is causing them not to sleep,” Hestand said. “We have to figure out what’s causing the problem before we can figure out a plan to help them sleep better. Sometimes it’s a matter of ‘well is there an outside noise keeping you up? Is the room too hot?’ Residence halls don’t help with sleeping problems.”
Along with noisy residence halls, stress on students can create sleeping problems. Dalton Broadaway, junior engineer major of Jonesboro, said he believes stress from school and work can cause a lot of college students to lose sleep.
“I think procrastination is a large part of why students aren’t getting as much sleep as they need,” Broadaway said. “There are also a lot of students who work multiple jobs. It’s hard to support yourself that way and get enough hours in to do school work. It really helps me to plan things out and not break from those plans unless it’s necessary.”
Broadaway said he tries not to procrastinate. With not procrastinating, he can plan his days to where he can get about seven to eight hours of sleep a night excluding weekends.
“I know when I get out of class, when I’m going to eat lunch, when I’m going to work and when I’m going to do homework,” he said. “And if I don’t have all my homework done by 10:30-11, it just doesn’t get done usually unless it is due the next day.”
Freshman early childhood education major Becca Neuman also thinks time-management plays a huge role in school-related stress that can cause students to not get the recommended amount of sleep.
“I think many college students do not understand time-management,” Neuman said. “People, like me, pile up too many duties on themselves. I’m sure about a fourth or so of college students simply stay out late partying too often. However, when it comes down to it, I think most of the problems with sleep that college students face is due to the amount of schoolwork we all have.” Neuman typically gets five to seven hours of sleep depending on how much work she needs to do for school, her sorority, volunteer work and work for other clubs.
Prioritizing tasks and activities in one’s day can help reduce the amount of stress students have and can increase the amount of sleep one gets in a night.
“Students aren’t putting the most important things first,” said Sean Johnson, freshman video and graphic design major of Murphy, Texas. “If students would start worrying about what is more important, they might have time to actually get a decent amount of sleep. But they are staying out late and studying even later.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are several things people can do to insure they have good sleep hygiene.
Tips include: going to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning; moderate physical activity may help promote sleep, but avoid vigorous exercise in the few hours before going to bed; avoid large meals before bedtime; avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime; and avoid nicotine.