Are you a “morning person”? The average college student would probably say no. It really is starting to feel like being a “morning person” while in college is impossible.
This is somewhat considered a normal thing among students, but because sleep is really essential to your health as a whole, it’s almost impossible to ignore the effects of a poor sleep schedule on a college student.
Sleep deprivation could be personally harming you in many ways, but here are a few of the big ones:
Cognitive performance deteriorates
This is often referred to as the “brain fog” we feel the morning after a long night awake.
Sleep is extremely important for various aspects of brain function, including cognition, concentration, productivity and performance.
If one doesn’t get enough sleep, all of these things can be negatively affected.
A study on medical interns showed that interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours of more than 24 hours made 36 percent more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
A poor sleep schedule ultimately is going to negatively affect one’s grades if their cognitive performance isn’t in the best possible place.
Poor sleep schedules are strongly linked to weight gain. The research is pretty conclusive: getting enough sleep is a major key to maintaining a healthy weight.
There’s a simple explanation for this, and it’s that the more you sleep, the less time you have to spend eating, so you ultimately will be taking in fewer calories.
But there’s a deeper explanation as well: those who are sleep deprived have a higher level of ghrelin – a hormone that stimulates appetite – which causes an increase in hunger. In cases like this, the body’s response to being tired is literally to tell you to eat more.
In other words, an easy way to avoid gaining the infamous “freshman 15” would be to get some more sleep.
A two-week long study performed by Sheldon Cohen, PhD monitored the development of the common cold after giving people nasal drops with the cold virus.
They found that people who slept less than seven hours were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than those who slept eight hours or more.
In college, something like the common cold can be a large inconvenience when you have a stack of things you should be working on, so getting a good night’s sleep is a simple way to combat this.
So what can we do to make sure we’re getting the sleep we need?
Get rid of electronic distractions.
I know: easier said than done. If you’re struggling with sleep and tend to be on screens in the evening, try reading a book and turning off the electronics. You will become more aware of drowsiness and the urge to head to bed sooner.
Hearing notifications go off every couple of minutes is only going to keep you awake for longer. If you’re worried about missing an important call or text from a friend or family member, you can change the settings in the “Do Not Disturb” function to allow calls and texts from certain numbers.
Try to resolve any of your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what’s bothering you and then set it aside for the next day. An unresolved issue is likely to keep you awake for longer than you need to be.
As hard as it for college students to make sure they’re getting the right amount of sleep, we need to make sure that we are more conscious of the decisions we make based on sleep, because ultimately, sleep is a major factor in keeping ourselves healthy, as well as being successful as we work for our degrees.