How Important is Sleep to College Students?

Trifton Rose, Impact Staff

Does lack of sleep effect the academic grades in college students? College students are at a high risk for not getting an adequate amount of sleep. Hectic class schedules, numerous team practices a day, demanding work schedules, and busy social lives often mean that sleep is a low priority.

A recent study shows getting 8 hours of sleep per night is the general guideline. Individual needs can vary from as little as five to as many of 10 hours of sleep necessary to feel rested and refreshed. Sleep debt can be a real problem, because it accumulates over time. A couple of “all nighters” in a week will make a serious impact. Catching extra sleep on weekends can feel like it helps to repay some of this debt, but irregular amounts of sleep can actually serve to interfere with your sleep cycle and to result in a lower grade average, and increased difficulties falling asleep, also known as insomnia.

A recent survey was given to students who attend Mercy College. Thirty two of the students receive 8 or more hours of sleep a night, Twenty six play on a sports team who receive less than 7 hours, and the remainder work and get less than six hours of sleep.

The survey showed that students who attend school and do not have a job and receive at least six hours of sleep or more do not have the highest grade point averages. In fact, students that get only six hours of sleep or less and have a job have the most academic success. Though this seems like it isn’t true, on the contrary it could be.

A student worker, Alexandra Martinez, was asked why is it that her grades are so good if she works so much and gets so little sleep? She responded, “To me its not about how much rest you get, it’s about how ambitious you are. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I find myself dosing off, but I pay for my education and I will not allow myself to slack off and waste my time.”

Is the study that shows the people who get the most rest have the highest academic success true? Yes and no.

There are many students who get the right amount of sleep and do well. Just as there are students who do not get as much sleep and do well. It comes down to the overall person. There are students all over the world who “waste time” no matter how much time they have to study or finish homework assignments.

It is based on the individual, some people do not mind having a “just passing grade” and others wont allow themselves to settle for a low grade. Not all studies agree with the Mercy study given. Other recent studies outline the adverse effects of poor sleep among students with regards to their success in school according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:

Sleepiness and poor sleep quality are prevalent among university students, affecting their academic performance and daytime functioning. Students with symptoms of sleep disorders are more likely to receive poor grades in classes such as math, reading and writing than peers without symptoms of sleep disorders. College students with insomnia have significantly more mental health problems than college students without insomnia.

College students with medical-related majors are more likely to have poorer quality of sleep in comparison to those with a humanities major. College students who pull “all-nighters” are more likely to have a lower GPA.

Students who stay up late on school nights and make up for it by sleeping late on weekends are more likely to perform poorly in the classroom. This is because, on weekends, they are waking up at a time that is later than their internal body clock expects. The fact that their clock must get used to a new routine may affect their ability to be awake early for school at the beginning of the week when they revert back to their old routine.

There are some things you can do to make sure you make the most out of the sleep that you do receive: Control your alcohol consumption. Although alcohol can help you to fall asleep, it disrupts the sleep cycle and will leave you feeling less rested the next day , decrease smoking. Large levels of nicotine in the blood result in increased agitation and decreased restful sleep. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise produces a higher percentage of deep sleep as well as fewer awakenings during the night. Watch your diet. Eating foods that are good for you can can enhance restful sleep as well as reduce fatigue. Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine contributes to insomnia and disrupts sleep. Establish a regular sleep schedule. Although this can be difficult for college students, as much as possible, it is important to try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day.