The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Sleep loss slams students

7:45 a.m.

You reach out to hit the snooze button on the alarm, trying to delay the inevitable. You have classes to attend, responsibilities on your shoulders … but just five more minutes. You wish that, for once, classes were canceled, that you could get a full eight hours of sleep.

As the alarm sounds again, you drag yourself out of bed and into shower. The day has begun.

Too many students at Guilford College and colleges nationwide face a similar predicament each morning.

According to most researchers, sleep ranks lowest on the list of concerns for most college students. A 2009 study released by the Journal for Adolescent Health reported that only 30 percent of students get the recommended eight hours of sleep every night, choosing instead to engage in other activities.

It is not uncommon to hear students joke, “Sleep? What is sleep?”

Unfortunately for some, such questions have a grain of truth.

Late-night study sessions, college papers and job obligations have taken precedence in the

lives of college students who choose to sacrifice sleep rather than cut down on activities.

However, a lack of sleep can have detrimental effects.

“Students underestimate the importance of sleep in their daily lives,” said Roxanne Prichard, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas, to Medical News Today. “They forgo sleep during periods of stress, not realizing that they are sabotaging their physical and mental health.”

“The more sleep-deprived you are, the worse your judgment,” said David Dinges, professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, in a phone interview with The Guilfordian.  “People believe they are coping fine but are much slower and more inefficient than they otherwise would have been. The effects of sleep deficits are cumulative.”

Junior Justin Ouellette and Early College senior Matt Gorton affirmed the effects of sleep deprivation.

“It has definitely impacted all aspects of my life,” said Ouellette. “I feel groggy or tired when I don’t get enough sleep.”

Gorton, like Ouellette, reported similar effects.

“My thinking gets slower,” said Gorton. “I feel sleepy for most of the day and have a harder time concentrating.”

To combat loss of sleep, a popular belief is that sleep lost during the week can be recouped during the weekends.

However, Dinges disagrees.

“It is very hard to cheat the system,” Dinges said. “Your body is not like a bank account. You cannot forgo sleep some nights and oversleep others and expect everything to be all right.”

Dinges continued, “Recovery may take many nights. On average, you may need three to four days of regular 8 – 10 hours of sleep to give your body enough time to overcome the effects of a lack of sleep.”

So, the solution?

The foremost remedy prescribed by most researchers is to turn off the computer.

According to a study done at the John Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center and reported by The California Aggie, the bright light of a computer screen can change the body’s internal clock and suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleeping and waking cycles.

Dinges also recommends naps.

“Naps in the afternoon or throughout the day add to one’s sleep complement,” he said. “Short naps are a great way to boost productivity and to increase memory consolidation.”

Junior Edward Praley agreed and said, “Power naps become students’ best friend in college.”

As the semester progresses and exams near, sleep will inevitably be the least of most students’ worries. However, the next time you pull an all-nighter or go for a long period without sleep, remember to think about your body.

Shut down the computer, stop chatting and take a nap, because as Early College junior Landon Fried put it, “Sleep is great.”

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