Survey any profession or group of people, and you will find that college students are among the most sleep-deprived and tired people in America.
Various studies show that college students average less than six hours of sleep every night – with many getting much less than that – and that as little as 10 percent of college student self-identify as being good sleepers.
Maybe not surprisingly, more than half of college-aged people respond that they feel tired during the day.
When you think about it, it should come as no surprise that most college kids ask the question of themselves and their colleagues: do I really need to sleep?
The answer is yes, of course, but it’s all a little more complicated than you think. Sleep deprivation in college students is a significant problem, especially considering that the average college students only sleeps roughly 6 hours a night – a full 120 minutes less than what is recommended by science!
Why are College Students Not Sleeping?
Lifestyle and culture play a large role in this phenomenon in a college setting, as the average college student is apt to cram those late-night studying sessions in and around partying, video games, playing on the Internet, and pretty much everything we all have done in college to procrastinate.
So it makes sense that they’re not getting enough sleep; the question is…does it really matter? And more importantly, how does a college student go about getting more sleep, anyways?
How Can College Students Sleep Better?
To start, the occasional late night won’t affect you, and we’ve all had a night of studying take the place of good rest, but the problem starts when missing sleep becomes a habit. Just like your body needs calories to replenish and refuel during the day, sleep is what recharges both your body and mind overnight to approach the next day fresh.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re cranky and depressed, but you’re also not performing at your peak and you leave yourself more open to getting sick repeatedly. Not good.
For college students, sleep deprivation can affect the schoolwork too, as short sleepers tend to have lower grade point averages, perform worse on tests, and get worse grades. It makes sense, because a lack of sleep decreases the brain’s ability to concentrate, result in more mistakes. Sleep is when the brain crunches information and processes what you’ve learned over the last week; if you don’t get it, your brain doesn’t get that important learning time.
So as a busy college student, are there realistic things you can do to actually focus on sleep, but still have fun and succeed at school? Absolutely! It’s all about commitment.
It comes down to making a consistent effort to get sleep. You may not get that 9 hours every night, but don’t blow off your responsibility to your body and suffer through four or five hours, either. Commit to a pre-sleep ritual and stick to it. Set a bedtime – even if it’s 1 am – and stick to it. If you can make it a consistent habit, you can commit overall to being a healthier and more well-rounded person.
At the end of the day (or, night!), you are responsible for your body. You won’t be young forever, and you do need sleep to function, whether you realize that now or not. Make a commitment to yourself, stick to your health goals, and even if your sleep patterns can’t be perfect, make sure they are forever improving.