Sleep: Better for Your GPA than Cramming

Now that the lazy days of summer are long gone and school is getting more difficult as midterms come into full swing, college students are forced to prioritize their time. Often times things such as homework, studying, partying and social events become more important than sleep for a college student. Research is beginning to show students are not getting the amount of sleep they need to be successful.

It is no surprise college students have a lot on their plate and sometimes finding time for sleep is difficult. Some find that although they are in bed trying to sleep, the stress of their school and daily life get in the way and sleep seems impossible. According to Medical News Today, stress keeps 68 percent of students awake at night and 20 percent experience this weekly.

Roxanne Prichard, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. conducted a study based on college students sleep patterns and general health. Prichard found that “students underestimate the importance of sleep in their daily lives. They forgo sleep during periods of stress, not realizing that they are sabotaging their physical and mental health.”

Other studies revealed more adverse effects of sleep deprivation on students. Not surprisingly, majors in medical fields are more likely to have poorer sleep quality of sleep in comparison to humanities majors because of course workload, for example. Students who pull “all-nighters” are more likely to have a lower GPA than those who sleep before their exams.

Sleep deprivation is a clinically diagnosed issue that should not be taken lightly. Lack of sleep  affects everything from immune system health, GPA’s, increased skin aging in women, mental health and the basic ability to perform and function. People with poor sleep habits are more likely than people with good sleep to use medication to stay awake or fall asleep and twice as likely to use alcohol to induce sleep. Alternating between stimulants and sedatives has been associated to a higher risk of addiction to drugs such as sleeping pills, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and adderall.

Some ways to ensure good night’s sleep begin with going to bed early. Students should go to bed earlier to have the opportunity for a full night of sleep. Adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep nightly. On the other hand, the bed should be a designated place for sleeping and/or sex. Avoid studying, reading, watching TV or talking on the phone in bed. This only confuses the body into associating the bed with your version of productivity. Another important thing is to not sleep in on weekends. It is best to go to bed and wake up roughly around the same time on the weekend as you do during the school week. This will keep you from shifting or altering your internal clock, making it difficult to wake up on Monday morning.

Give yourself fifteen to twenty minutes before bed to “wind down”. Turn off the TV and phone and relax to get your body ready to go to sleep. There is no doubt that college students struggle with time management but it is crucial to schedule time for your body to unwind and get a good night’s rest. The body is not wired to run on lack of sleep. Do yourself a favor by allocating time for some shuteye. Your body and GPA will thank you.