Historically, adults have not been super great at making sure we are getting adequate rest. We work too much and binge-watch too often in what little downtime we have. That’s why entire industries have been built around the premise of helping people get some much-needed rest.
But while us grownups were so busy worrying about our own sleepless nights, college students are facing a sleep deprivation epidemic that threatens their well-being.
Statistics and studies led us to believe students were doing just fine. Gone are the days of drunken pledges bombing exams. These days college students are forgoing wild parties and relying on technology to study up and improve their test scores.
But despite these promising changes, the kids are not alright. They are exhausted.
In a self-reported University of Arizona study, 23% of athletes reported experiencing fatigue at excessive levels.
A study conducted at Brown University concluded female students suffered from insomnia more often than male students. 30% of female respondents reported experiencing insomnia within the past 3 months, compared to 18% of the male respondents.
Most college students – over half to be exact – get less than 7 hours of sleep a night.
Student-athletes frequently experience hallucinations and sleep paralysis because their busy schedules often affect their quality of sleep.
Studies show sleep loss can hurt academic performance just as much as binge-drinking or drug use.
Proteins called cytokines are produced less often when people are sleep deprived. Antibodies and cells that fight off infection are also produced in lower numbers. This means tired people are more likely to get sick!
Sleep debt can cause memory problems, mood regulation issues, and poor decision-making. Contrary to popular belief, the human body does not adjust to sleep debt.
Freshmen are more likely to suffer bad grades due to poor sleep. Not only that, but each additional night of bad sleep further increases the likelihood that a student will drop a class.
Your major plays a factor in how much sleep you get.
Medical majors get the least quality sleep.
Don’t pull an all-nighter before your big exam! You're more likely to lower your GPA that way, not – improve it.
1 in 4 University of Georgia students say sleep deprivation hurts their academic performance, causing lower grades, missing classwork, or skipped classes.
Sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of negative side effects like weight gain, a higher body mass index, and more body fat. Some people also lose the ability to tolerate larger amounts of exercise and experience cravings for unhealthy foods.
Students complaining about boring professors have a point! Lectures cause failing grades to increase by 55% as compared to a more engaging learning environment. Kids just fall asleep in class!
 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
 The Washington Post
Cellphones cause FOMO or the Fear Of Missing Out. Many students sleep with their phones under their pillows to avoid missing important calls or texts. This causes a disruption in their sleep cycles: They wake up every time the phone goes off and respond while half awake and barely coherent.
Some experts think our culture’s tendency to brag about being tired causes people to deprioritize sleep.
Classes start too early! The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend classes begin no earlier than 8:30 AM.
Irregular sleep patterns – i.e. waking up and going to bed at random times – can have the same detrimental effects as not getting enough sleep.
Stress is a key factor in poor sleep quality and some researchers think it affects students more than caffeine or alcohol consumption.
Adolescents and young adults have delayed circadian rhythm preferences, making them literal night owls!
30-50% of college students take naps but then end up staying awake longer at night, ultimately sleeping less overall.
People who take Adderall to aid cram sessions often experience insomnia and restlessness, creating an endless cycle of sleeplessness.
Sleeping in on the weekends doesn’t always help. It can actually mess up the circadian rhythm even more because the body can only adjust to 2 extra hours of sleep.
Penn Med’s sleep specialists educate kids on healthy sleep habits just in time for exam season.
Recommendations include napping less or earlier in the day, cutting back on caffeine, and exercising to stay alert.
The University of Arizona finds sleep education and tracking increases sleep quality and athletic performance.
Harvard students can take a sleep class to learn about sleep hygiene and how to establish healthy habits.
Baylor University offered students extra credit points for succeeding in “The 8-hour Challenge”. More sleep equals better grades – a win-win.
Cuesta College is advocating a bill that would allow homeless students to safely sleep in their cars in the school parking lot.
For students in dorms with no air conditioning, Goucher College allowed students to sleep on cots in the campus library.
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