Stuyding for exams, reading that $80 course pack, partying roommates, fast food runs, Adult Swim. Just a few examples of why most college students do not get enough sleep. Rest is the one thing everyone needs that we don’t get enough of. It’s about time to start examining our sleep hygiene. With stress levels rising, it is more important now than ever to get those trusty six to eight hours.
[beds] “Sleep is essential,” Jonathan Kermiet, a health educator at Olin Health Center said. “It’s a recuperative process.”
In the 2004 National College Health Assessment, only 38 percent of student’s said they got enough sleep and feel rested when they wake up in the morning four or five days a week. That means in your 9 o’clock class on Tuesday mornings, at least half of the students there will still be tired because they did not get enough sleep the night before.
The NCHA also reported that 60 percent of students reported having sleep difficulties. Sleep deprivation can lead to many things, and not just bags under your eyes, according to Kermiet. “Fatigue, inability to concentrate, headaches, and those are just the short term effects; the longer a person goes without sleep, the effects are decreased immune system, mood swings, and depression, just for starters,” Kermiet said. “The immune system needs to recuperate to be able to fight infections. Without that recuperation process, you’re more susceptible to sickness.”
Keli Tolley, a studio art major senior, said that she averages about seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
“I know I’m supposed to get at least seven hours of sleep,” Tolley said. “Seven is my number, but depending on my day, seven to nine.” Tolley also said that if she does not get at least seven hours of sleep she gets cranky and lacks concentration and focus.
Currently, the NCHA also said 24 percent of students said that sleep problems had some effect on their academic performance. Those whose school work was most affected were non-white females who lived on campus and had a cumulative GPA of less than 2.5.
So why aren’t students getting the six to eight hours of sleep a night that is recommended for adults as the ticket to a good night of sleep?
“We do know that stress and sleep problems go hand in hand,” Kermiet said. “I’m sure that when students are pulling all-nighters around finals or midterms, there are more sleep problems around then because there is more stress then.”
I know what your next question is. What can I do to sleep better?
According to Kermiet, and everything that I’ve ever read on sleep, stress is a big factor. So naturally it would seem that part of the key to getting better sleep is lowering the amount of stress in your life.
“Stress causes a lack of sleep for me,” Tolley said. “All the things that I haven’t gotten done during the day plays through my head.”
However, there are ways to help with your sleep patterns if you are stressed. In fact, Tolley said things that help her get sleep at night are reading and relaxing or trying to finish everything so she will not have to worry about anything.
“Generally, if I want to go to sleep, I stay away from stimulants like the T.V. or computer and I read,” Tolley said. “That’s how I determine if I’m tired or not.”
Because Tolley has had fatigue her entire life, she had to give up caffeine because it distorted her sleep. “Caffeine really messes up your body and sleeping pattern,” Tolley said. “I had to start eating right and eating foods that gave me energy. It’s taken me a good two years to figure out what I can and can’t eat.”
To keep her energy up, Tolley said that eating a good breakfast keeps her going throughout the entire day, as well as eating foods such as apples which have natural sugars and offer a healthy way to get energy.
In the 2004 NCHA, over 75 percent of students said they experienced stress during the year and stress can also lead to sleeping too much.
“Sleeping too much, or taking too many naps during the day, can affect your normal sleep pattern,” Kermiet said. “When I’ve talked to students about stress and too much sleep, its invariably the women who oversleep. Not the men, typically.”
Tolley’s best advice to students who suffer from stress and sleep deprivation is to avoid consuming foods or drinks with caffeine at least five hours before going to bed and using certain pillows, light music, watching T.V. or having the fan on as ways to help sleep better.
“Get the same amount of sleep everyday because that’s the only way you can regulate your body,” Tolley said. “The more stress you have, the less sleep you’ll get.”
Advice well taken and on that note, I’m hitting the hay. Right after that episode of Family Guy.

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