A good sleep is incredibly important for health. In fact, it is just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, natural sleeping patterns are being interfered with, especially for college students. Research shows that students who sleep more perform better academically than those who do not get get enough sleep.
Only 11% of college students report that they sleep well at night. Nearly 70% of students complain about a lack of sleep due to academic stress. About 20% of students pull at least one all-nighter each month, and nearly 30% of students are at risk for developing a sleep disorder. If this sounds normal to you, you might wonder why losing sleep during college is a big deal. What you need to realize is that the amount of sleep you get can correlate directly with how well you score on exams and your final GPA. Students who get at least seven hours of sleep each night will rank 10% higher on exams than students who don’t. Also, the majority of students who sleep less than six hours per night have an average GPA of 2.74, while students who sleep more than nine hours per night have an average GPA of 3.24. Nine hours may seem excessive to some, but clearly, students should be striving to get as much quality sleep as they can, with 7 hours being the bare minimum.
Now that you know how sleep can impact your college performance, what can you do about it? You need to do everything you can to fit sleep into your schedule. It’s just as important as eating, studying, and showing up for class. Here are some tips for getting proper sleep in college.
Exercise: Odds are that you have a busy schedule, but it’s important to fit regular exercise into your day just as you would fit a class in. Sitting in class and then sitting in your room studying doesn’t burn the energy that you need to burn in order to sleep properly. Even if it’s only for 30 minutes, go to the gym and run on the treadmill. Another option would be to find more active ways of getting to, and from, class. For instance, if you live off campus, ride a bike to class instead of driving your car. At the end of the day, the more fatigued your body is, the better you will sleep.
Limit Alcohol: For many people, college experience includes drinking. Some people will even drink because they feel that it helps them sleep at night. What people don’t realize is that alcohol severely impacts the quality of sleep that you get. Studies have been done to see how the brain functions during sleep. During normal sleep, alpha waves are slowed and delta waves are heightened, which is the opposite of the brain while a person is awake. After you’ve been drinking, alpha waves are heightened and delta waves are slowed, leading to severely disrupted sleep. Therefore, limiting the consumption of alcohol will lead to better sleep and increased brain function.
Limit Late-Night Snacks: Another issue that many college students have is snacking on junk food while they study. It’s easy to pile up on candy and other sugary snacks from a vending machine or the gas station. The problem is, sugar causes blood sugar instability, which disrupts your body’s sleep patterns. The sugar burns quickly and then your blood sugar drops. When this happens, your body begins producing extra cortisol and glucagon, which stimulates wakefulness in the brain. If you have to snack late in the day, opt for healthy choices.
If you want to get the most out of your college experience, make sleep a priority. Treat sleep like you treat studying. It’s an important part of your grades and your overall well-being.