College students should make sleep a priority

Jameson Filston, Campus Carrier arts & living editor

Sleep is something I take for granted. I have always viewed sleep as a waste of time. To me, those eight hours of rest are block of time that I can borrow from with no consequences. I often use the night for homework, reading, or goofing off.

Because of this outlook on sleep, I often get much less sleep than I need, which causes countless problems for me in every area of life.

In college, it is easy to get too little sleep when there is so much to do, and classes can force you to get up early in the morning. I have heard the importance of a healthy amount of sleep from many people in my life, but I continued to brush it off. I rationalized it by telling myself that everyone needs a different amount of sleep. However, as I got less and less, I began to notice some major negative impacts to my focus.

Stanford University Center of Excellence for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Disorders says that college students need about eight hours of sleep a night. Toward the end of last year, I started getting less than half that recommended amount. Class became a chore as I struggled to keep my eyes open and pay attention. I began to drift off at random times throughout the day, and I often had a headache and bleary eyes. Everyday was a struggle because my lack of focus caused class work to take much longer than it should have taken.

These changes happened so gradually that I did not notice them, nor did I connect them to my increasingly chaotic sleep cycle. It was only when I fell asleep during a final that I realized that I had a problem.

Over the summer, I worked as a counselor at a summer camp. This forced me to maintain a normal sleep cycle, and the changes were evident almost immediately. I had a comparative abundance of energy and was able to focus and think much more quickly. However, even when you know the benefits and consequences, it can be hard to go to bed when you should.

How do you make sure that you are consistently getting enough sleep? The National Sleep Foundation recommends exercising daily and turning off electronics before bed, as well as sticking to a sleep schedule even on weekends.

I have found that many people are able to keep a consistent bed time by agreeing on a time to go to bed with friends. Make sure to set a time when you will begin preparation for bed and a time when you actually will lie down.

The National Sleep Foundation says to make sleep a priority, which means stopping whatever else you are doing when it is time to turn off the lights. If you are doing homework that is not due early the next morning, you may be able to get it done more efficiently with a full night’s rest.

I am not very good at getting a full night’s rest, but I have resolved to make it a priority. I hope that you will as well.

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