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Is Your College Student Getting Enough Sleep?

Updated on March 8, 2018

Getting Enough Sleep?

The Sleep Connection For Good Health

A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is one of the basic human drives. Most health books don’t talk much about it, despite the fact that you spend over one-third of your life in a slumbering state. The fact is that we tend to take the behavior of sleep for granted, unless, of course, we are not getting enough of it. We are told that the average person sleeps six to eight hours a night, with an occasional nap here and there. The truth is, over half of Americans get much less than this. Eight hours may be recommended, but it is not the norm. A poor night’s sleep cascades into a poor waking day. Over time, the results will ultimately affect all aspects of health.

Whatever your sleep patterns were before you started college, chances are that
they have changed dramatically since then. By and large, the freedom connected with college life tends to throw off sleep patterns. The new environment, lack of structure, and missing parental supervision creates an environment that is anything but conducive to sleep. Instead of hitting the hay around 10 or 11 P.M., your student might not lay his or her head on the pillow until 1 A.M. or 2 A.M. On weekends they may go to bed at sunrise, rather than waking up to see it. There are simply too many new and exciting things to do than sleep. And let us not forget the all-nighters that tend to become habit forming during midterm and final exams.

Since the 1950s, scientists have been studying sleeping behaviors and sleeping patterns in earnest. With over forty years of data collection, you’d think they would have some solid answers; the truth is, no one really knows why we sleep or how much sleep we really need. There are all kinds of theories about the need to have rest, but to date there seems to be a lack of evidence as to what actually goes on during the night hours. Interestingly enough, we do know what happens when we don’t get enough sleep. Memory and motor coordination fade rapidly, and performance, in all aspects, is greatly compromised—as many a college student will attest to when pulling a series of all-nighters.

Describe your sleeping patterns. Are your sleep habits regular? Do you go to bed and get up about the same time every day? How have your sleeping patterns changed since you entered college? Do you make a habit of pulling all-nighters? Do you have problems sleeping at night? Do you have a hard time getting up in the morning? What are some of the patterns you see with your sleep?

Don't skimp on your sleep, make sure you get at least as much as the chart below indicates:

Drowsiness, Brain Fog and Forgetfulness

When you don't get enough sleep, you might not notice too much of a difference. Sleep deprivation effects can be subtle. Can't find your Cliffsnotes? Forget what you were looking for when you walked into the room? Get halfway to class and realize you left your cell phone plugged up to the charger- at the dorm? Forgot to add earrings to those bare lobes? Think about how much sleep you got the night before.

Okay, let's say it was smooth sailing getting ready and off to class. You didn't forget anything, and you even got to the dining hall for breakfast. That assignment you were working on yesterday is waiting for the final tweaks and an edit and it will be ready to turn in. Sitting at your computer, your mind starts to wander. This task should have taken an hour and here it is lunch time and you're STARVING, but you're still not done. You just can't seem to concentrate. Sleep deprivation strikes again.

You finally get your class report finished and delivered. After lunch you are feeling slightly full, and with the afternoon sun warming you through the library window, you begin to feel sleepy. Oh well, it's just that after-lunch-with-a-full-tummy drowsiness, right? Happens all the time. You are right. It does happen when you are sleep deprived. If you are getting enough sleep, lunchtime should not cause that drowsy feeling. On the contrary, you should feel alert all day and well into the evening.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, everyone's sleep needs are different. Husbands and wives most often coordinate their sleep patterns with one another, regardless of their individual needs. College students make time for classes and often jobs or outside activities first and put sleep on the back burner, so to speak. Often they are sleep deprived during the week and try to catch up on the weekends. Sleep cannot be stored, however, and grades often suffer accordingly.

Sleep Study

Get Better Sleep

There are ways to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep that will have a positive impact on your quality of life and your GPA. If you have too much going on that interferes with sleeping at night, or maybe things on your mind keep you tossing and turning (every now and then or frequently) you might consider cutting back on your activities- or taking a sleep aid. Keep in mind that there are plenty of drugs out there that the drug companies would love to sell you. Drugs can help you fall asleep, but the downside to drugs is that they usually leave you feeling tired and draggy the next morning.

There are natural products out there that won't have negative consequences like morning grogginess. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by your body and is available as a healthy sleep aid supplement. It doesn't have the side effects that drugs can give you, and is generally recognized as a safe supplement to take. The only caution is that you shouldn't use any sleep aid too often or you will build up a resistance to it and it will become ineffective.

If you're a parent, talk to your college student about their schedule and emphasize the importance of getting enough sleep. In many cases, especially if your child is away at school for the first time, you may not know exactly how well they are managing their time. You can probably tell from their grades how well they are doing in maintaining healthy sleep habits, and you may have to step in and help them sort things out the first term or two.

Listed below you will find the top 4 all-natural sleep aid products. Isn't it time to solve those sleep issues? You can do it in a healthy way and reap the benefits tomorrow morning!


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    • Laceylinks profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Green 

      4 years ago from Alabama

      Shyron everyone is different, but your daily routine becomes a habit over time. The time your body signals you that it is time to rest becomes a habit as well. Whether you respond to those signals or choose to ignore them is totally your choice, and is usually dictated by your daytime schedule. The hour of day you are expected to be working has a lot to do with it. If your job is in the morning, it makes sense that you sleep at night, but if you work in the evening your sleep schedule can easily shift to fit in with that schedule. So it all depends. My point is that you pay attention to your own body signals and get rest (and enough rest is crucial) when you need it.

    • Laceylinks profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Green 

      5 years ago from Alabama

      Hi Shyron, I'm so happy you were here and read my Hub! Thank you! If you ever find you can't sleep, I recommend melatonin as a safe and natural sleep aid.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Hi Laceylinks, I can sleep anytime, anywhere, but usually stay up to the wee hours. My mom use to say "it is not late until 2 then it is to late."

      Voted up, interesting and shared. --Shyron

    • Laceylinks profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Green 

      6 years ago from Alabama

      Hi Healthylife2~ I'm sorry to hear you have sleep issues. It's hard to fit all of our activities into a normal day and leave ourselves enough time to get the quality and quantity of rest we really need, isn't it. I have the same problem sometimes. At least now I know those little forgetful moments can usually be attributed to my alarm clock going off too early and not something that's wrong with ME.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great hub outlining the value of sleep to good health. This is a piece of the puzzle I'm still trying to add. I guess it's a work in progress for me. At one point I considered melatonin and will research it again. Thanks for the reminder!


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