Samantha Malley – Art Director
Chances are, you’re a typical college student balancing numerous activities including (but not limited to) homework for all your classes, spending 20 plus hours a week at your job and possibly being involved in sports or clubs. Not to mention eating three times a day and maintaining a social life––you’re a busy person. Finding the time to get enough sleep is understandably difficult when juggling the everyday tasks of being a college student, however, it is crucial for your health.
The average college student needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night to wake up the next morning ready for their day. Only 11 percent of students across America say they get the right amount of sleep every night. This bad habit is called sleep deprivation, and it may be the reason you are not feeling yourself during the semester.
Sleep deprivation has both long and short term consequences. First of all, cognitive factors will be extremely altered. Your ability to focus, think and process information as well as recall old information will be damaged. You don’t want to lose your ability to recall information when you have an exam worth 30 percent of your grade coming up. Your immune system also eventually becomes dysfunctional. Just to mention a few things, your chance of becoming sick is much easier, and you also have an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer. Your mental health will begin to deteriorate because your circadian rhythm, or natural time clock, is all messed up when you don’t get a routine amount of sleep every night.
Your physical stress response increases as well as your anxiety and depression levels. With all that’s on your plate, you don’t want any more trouble or stressors such as gaining weight. Lack of sleep causes unhealthy cravings to fulfill your energy needs, leading to a poor diet and potential health problems as a result.
In order to avoid all these life inconveniences, here are some helpful tips to help you sleep: Stop using technology at least 30 minutes before you want to go to bed. The blue light from electronics blocks melatonin, a hormone that can help you fall asleep. Instead of scrolling on your phone or watching TV, try reading a book, listening to music or coloring.
Eating regularly and scheduled meals can help as well. If you have a day off, try meal prepping. Being physically active most days will benefit you immensely by reducing stress, which promotes healthier sleep, and tiring out your body.
Spending a good amount of time outside during the day will also trigger your body to correct sleep cycles. Try walking to class or eating lunch outside.
Lastly, practice your time management skills. Do not rely on the weekend to catch up on your homework. Stay on top of your assignments to reduce stress and mentally plan your days ahead, which will help keep up your grades.
These tasks may seem small but they are extremely helpful to your sleeping habits and essentially important to your health. This would be a good time to stop whatever you’re doing, clear your schedule, and catch up on that healthy sleep!