Campus Essentials - Health & Wellness: Do I Really Need to Sleep?
Musician Warren Zevon coined the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” in 1996. Ironically, lack of sleep is lethal, and the measures college students are using to stay awake are killing them.
College students are among the most sleep-deprived people of any profession or group of people in America. On average, college students get six hours of sleep a night, and many of them most likely get much less than that.
One of the most pressing issues for college students is time management, and sleeping is greatly affected by that. Instead of spending a recommended eight hours sleeping, students have to dig into their resting time to get homework, studying, and projects done.
Individuals who go to school and hold down a job simultaneously have a particularly hard time getting rest. All of that stress on the body is damaging, and the lack of sleep leaves the body weakened and unrestored, making it that much harder to keep up with a packed schedule.
Lack of sleep is a proven cause of fatigue, clumsiness, worsened memory skills, and weight loss or gain. Sleep deprivation has been linked to serious diseases, such as heart disease and mental illness including psychosis and bipolar disorder (Wikipedia.com). During sleep, the brain recharges itself so that it’s able to perform the next day’s functions. Even the smallest tasks become difficult for a person who hasn’t slept enough and stress is put on the brain.
Energy drinks, shots, and pills are common methods college students use to keep themselves awake far longer than they should be. Ingredients like guarana, ginseng, and taurine are not safe when consumed in high amounts. A caffeine overload can cause heart attacks, brain damage, and seizures and can put people into comas. Most energy drinks contain more than three times as much caffeine per serving than a normal cup of coffee.
Popular energy drink Monster has caused five deaths and countless heart attacks since its release in 2002. Similar energy drinks with appealing flavors keep energy seekers reaching for more. This year, a 14-year-old girl drank two Monster energy drinks within a 24-hour period and was pronounced brain dead after being in a coma for six days (Huffington Post)
College students have it hard, but relying on artificial energy boosters and lacking sleep don’t make life any easier. There are plenty of solutions to getting better sleep, such as better time management (which is of course easier said than done).
However difficult it is to plan a schedule, it’s not impossible to put some “me” time into it. Writing downtime into a planner is just like writing down a dentist appointment – once it’s scheduled, it has to be checked off. Personal time is as important as getting a seven-page paper done. Spending some time relaxing eases stress levels, and when stress is high, it’s that much harder to fall asleep.
Ultimately, we really do need to sleep – lacking rest does more damage than it does good. No matter what needs to be accomplished, risking overall health to get it done isn’t worth it. Sleeping and relaxing check items off to-do lists and give students the required energy and renewal necessary to trudge through a demanding week.