Sleep deprivation plaguing college students

Brayden Miller, Staff Writer

College students might not realize it until they have to wake up for an 8 a.m. class, but getting lots of sleep is very important for your body’s health. Inadequate sleep will not only make someone feel drowsy and generally miserable, but it can also make their metabolism, immune system and memory retention less effective. 

Unfortunately, there are many kinds of distractions and complications that might keep a college student from having a healthy sleep schedule. From the crushing weight of an especially heavy workload to the – almost obligatory – participation in “going out” culture, it can seem like a very tall order to work a reasonable bedtime into the average college student’s schedule. 

Or maybe they can’t get off their phones.

As described by the Journal of Biophotonics, using a phone or a computer before going to bed can interfere with the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone used for inducing sleep. Supposedly, this is because of the blue light wavelengths present in the screens. The blue lights, which are similar to that of daylight, confuse your body’s day and night cycle.  To get the best quality sleep, it is a good idea not to use that type of device within an hour of laying down for the night. 

However, that is not always feasible for a college student, especially if there are a test or major assignment due the next day.

The struggle to keep up with assignments is another cause for many college student’s late nights. If a student cannot find the time to study throughout the course of the week, they might find themselves pulling a desperate cramming session the night before a test. 

For instance, freshman Alyssa Chargualaf has been known to cram as a last resort. 

If I have other stuff in my schedule and I did not have time to study ahead, then I would cram, but if I had that time, then I would not cram,” Chargualaf said. “I would space it out.”

Many studies by the American Psychological Association support that cramming style studying is far less effective for memory retention than shorter studying sessions spaced out over multiple days. The APA also warns that lack of sleep diminishes concentration and the ability to recall learned information, so pulling an all-nighter might be counterproductive, even if you have burned through all your other studying time hanging out with friends.

The urge can be strong to reward oneself after a long, hard week of classes. What better way to do that than by going out with some of your closest friends on the weekend? 

But time flies when you’re having fun, so going out might eat into time that is typically set aside for sleeping. As important as socialization is for a healthy mindset, sleep deprivation, compounded with a college student’s mysterious tendency to end up sick the morning after a night out, is – distinctly not healthy.

While sleep is vitally important for the health of your body, finding a manageable balance between socialization, sleep and work is important for being a well-rounded and happy individual. So, the next time you are planning to learn a month’s worth of material in a single night, maybe reconsider.