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Wake up to sleep deprivation

Viewpoints Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 01:02

Misti Jones | The Houstonian

Misti Jones | The Houstonian

College students are known as the most sleep deprived demographic in the population. The busy life of a college student allows minimal time for certain activities: studying, working and sleeping. It’s an endless cycle we lead as college students—go to class, to another class, to a job, to do homework, to sleep whenever possible. These days, sleep just isn’t as accessible as it used to be.

The Journal of Adolescent Health released a study that only 30 percent of college students get eight or more hours of sleep a day. We’ve got a lot on our plates. As college students, we want to socialize, go out and drink, then work on term papers, book reports and other school work later, as close to the deadline as possible. This, of course, means taking time away from our sleep schedules.

Sleep deprivation is not just a derivative of late night cram sessions, job-related activities or partying. According to the same study by Adolescent Health, 68 percent of college students have trouble falling asleep due to academic and emotional stress; therefore they go to bed later and wake up earlier. These statistics show how stress impacts our sleep quality more than significantly than other factors like drinking alcohol or bright light of a cell phone/computer screen.

More often than not, college students are allowing less time for the mandatory sleep needed for ideal performance because they’re too worried about academics or they’ve waited too long to start an assignment and spend all night slaving over it. Sure, it seems like a rite of passage to pull at least one all-nighter, but doing it more than once of month is just idiotic. And no, it’s not fun.

Of course, like my fellow college students, I tell myself I will stop procrastinating and go to bed earlier, but do I ever? I think college students will agree that there just aren’t enough hours in a day and there isn’t enough time to sleep. We put sleep on the back burner to focus more on what we can get done in a day.

Sleeping six to eight hours a night is vital for health of our minds and our bodies. Sleep deprivation can have detrimental effects on daily performance, including academics and driving. Studies show 12 percent of college students miss class three to four times per month because of poor sleeping cycles. They get low marks on tests, papers and class participation. These students lack concentration, attention and productivity.

Sleep deprivation also been associated with depression and behavioral complications as well as long term effects such as heart attack, high blood pressure, depression and other mood disorders and obesity, according to Seattle Green Drinks.

Well you might be asking, what can we do about this terrible phenomenon before we all become walking, drooling zombies? Simple. Sleep.

Take a cat nap or powers nap during any break you have to restore energy and attentiveness. According to Brian Richter, Ph.D, a specialist in sleep medicine, taking a nap for too long may affect the natural sleeping pattern of a student so if you’re studying for exams or writing term papers, take quick 20 to 30 minute naps. Create a more comfortable sleep environment, maintain a nutritious diet, stop procrastinating on homework and force yourself to get into bed one hour earlier each day until you’ve met your ideal bed time. Richter also advises to not drink caffeinated beverages past 4 p.m. and only exercise three hours before you go to bed.

I understand that hanging out with friends, getting on Facebook, texting, partying and playing around all hours of the night is part of being an independent college student. But no matter what activities you cram throughout the day, don’t forget your buddy sleep. He needs you as much as you need him.

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