Lack of sleep negatively affects students

(Graphic by Audrey Hockersmith)

When the word college comes to mind, it is often associated with studying, coffee and lack of sleep. Many students sacrifice sleep to study for a test, finish a project on time or just because they are stressed out. Because of the many stressors in life, sleep deprivation is a common issue among college students.

Erin Rambo, sophomore in biology, knows firsthand what it is like to experience lack of sleep because of stress.

“With my major, I constantly have tests or homework, which means I can’t slack off at all during the week with my studying,” Rambo said. “There have been so many times that I don’t sleep at all the night before a test. I just lay there unable to fall asleep, and the next thing I know it’s 4:30 in the morning and since I can’t sleep, I figure I should just get up and start studying.”

Losing sleep comes with more consequences than just needing an extra shot of espresso the next day. People who sleep less than the recommended amount are more likely to have a weaker immune system, experience weight gain and have more difficulty remembering information and performing everyday tasks.

Julie Gibbs, director of health promotion at Lafene Health Center, said students’ studying habits are affected by their sleeping schedules.

“When your body does not get an adequate amount of sleep, it affects a person more than just feeling tired,” Gibbs said. “Adequate sleep is necessary for a person’s memory processing. That is why usually when students stay up all night before a test they still have trouble remembering the material.”

The average amount of sleep a person should be getting is between seven and eight hours a night; however, most college students are averaging about six hours a night, Gibbs said.

“We have found that about 70 percent of students are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep,” Gibbs said. “When we come in contact with students, we encourage them to try to get between seven to nine hours if possible.”

While college can be demanding at times, sleep is still a necessary factor in maintaining mental and physical health.

“We are seeing that students talking about how they got absolutely no sleep the night before is becoming a sort of ‘badge of honor’ on campus, and it is increasingly becoming more and more of a problem,” said Laurie Wessely, clinical director of Kansas State Counseling Services.

“I see dramatic improvements on people I work with when they change their sleeping habits,” Wessely continued. “It’s like a night and day difference. Students find that they are being more efficient in the things they do when they get the right amount of sleep.”