Don’t Sacrifice Your Sleep for School

Kari Hunter

As we’ve all heard before, getting the recommended eight hours of sleep is essential for your health and mind.

According to Healthline, those who get less than eight hours of sleep have an increased risk of suffering from obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression which are all linked to the causes of early death. It can also affect your mind’s cognitive abilities making it much harder to concentrate and retain information.

You’d think Americans would prioritize their sleep more knowing the detrimental effects, but according to Advisory Board they would much rather prioritize their fitness/nutrition, work, and hobbies/interests than sleep and their social life.

College students get on average six hours of sleep a night, according to the University Health Center. Some students would rather pull an all-nighter and cram last minute for their classes than get a night of rest.

A variety of studies have been done to explore sleeping habits of college students. Michael Sullin, Ph.D. at Baylor University, conducted a study on students in the upper-level Psychology, Neuroscience, and Interior Design classes. The study allowed students to earn extra credit on their final exam if they were able to rest the full eight hours each night for a week. If students couldn’t get full eight hours of sleep, they were told they would lose points on their final (even though no points were actually removed). In the end, the study found that those who were able to maintain a consistent sleeping schedule performed better than those who didn’t.

If only we could all get some extra credit on our final exam for getting a full night of rest!

There are alternatives to the Monophasic sleeping schedule when one sleeps eight hours a night.  Biphasic sleeping means sleeping five to six hours a night with an additional nap midday. Polyphasic sleeping is sleeping three to four hours a night with three additional naps scattered throughout the day. These routines are mostly used for those who have inconsistent work schedules.

Brett Janes created an infographic called “4 Alternative Sleeping Cycles That You Didn’t Know About” that explained that Biphasic and Polyphasic sleeping methods aren’t for everyone; some people may be able to benefit from them while others might suffer from sleep deprivation. So you should consult a physician on whether your body can endure these methods.

Here are some simple ways to improve your sleeping habits:

Converting to a plant-based diet and exercise.  Protein-rich food takes longer to digest than fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber. Having a protein enriched meal can disrupt your sleep because your body will need time to digest it.

Limiting the use of electronics in the evening.  Many electronics emit blue light which tricks your mind into thinking it’s daytime. This can disrupt your sleeping schedule, so getting off your electronic devices two to three hours before bed will increase your ability to fall asleep quickly.

Trying to have a consistent bedtime.  Bedtimes aren’t just for kids. Your body will adjust to your bedtime when done consistently. It will turn your body into a living clock, making it easier for it to understand when to rest and when to wake up.

Changing the temperature in your bedroom to a cooler setting. recommends having your bedroom’s temperature around 60-67 degrees. Our bodies usually drop in temperature while we sleep, so having a colder room will help our body cool off causing us to fall asleep faster.

Meditating and writing in a journal before bed.  Meditation helps with relaxation. Having a clear mind will lessen sleep disturbances that can keep you up for hours. Take five to ten minutes before bed to clear your mind. Another form of meditation is writing in a journal; you can plan your next day or just write whatever is on your mind.