College has created a sleep deprived generation

By Sara Butler

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Nelson/ The Vista

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Nelson/ The Vista

It is no secret that college students do not get enough sleep. In fact, it is often said that they are one of the most sleep-deprived groups of people in the country.

These assumptions are affirmed at our university. According to USD Student Wellness, “23.5 percent of undergraduates report that sleep difficulties resulted in a lower grade on a test or project.”

Further, they claim that, “students who pull all-nighters tend to have a lower GPA than students who make time for sleep.”

At first glance, this data indicates that the students who procrastinate are more likely to earn lower grades.

However, the data may also represent responsible students who have to stay up late working on assignments may also be affected by the lack of sleep they get the night before an exam or presentation. They may be stressed out and overwhelmed at night, no matter how well they schedule out their days.

While sleep is crucial for college students, sometimes it is not taken seriously enough.

According to USD Student Wellness, sleep offers many great benefits, including reducing your stress, improving your memory, controlling your body weight, repairing your body and keeping your heart healthy.

This exemplifies the irony of sleep among college students. Some do not get enough sleep because they are trying to get everything done. While students may try to cram for a test the night before, this is less likely to be effective without a decent amount of hours of sleep.

Lack of sleep has been proven to hinder your ability to remember information the next morning.

Further, sleep is healthy for your body. Those who do not get enough sleep are more likely to get sick. Those who are sick are less likely to do well in classes, which may cause more stress.

The combination of sickness and stress makes it even harder for students to be able to catch up on sleep.

It seems to be a neverending cycle, where studying replaces sleep, and lack of sleep hurts student’s studying.

There are many explanations for why college students are so deprived of sleep. One of these is the transition from high school and college.

Freshman Cara Carucci notes the difference between her sleep patterns in high school and college.

“It’s definitely not like high school. There’s no one telling you when to go to bed,” Carucci said. “It’s up to you to know when enough is enough and sometimes it’s hard to make yourself stop cramming for midterms.”

Sophomore Janel Hubbard has noticed her college schedule has a negative impact on her sleeping habits.

“Since coming to college, my bedtime has changed from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.” Hubbard said. “I take occasional naps to catch up on sleep. On nights before exams, I hardly sleep at all because I get too anxious.”

College comes with a lot of independence and responsibility. While students may think this means keeping up with their studies, it also means keeping up with their sleep.

While some students may feel like having a busy schedule forces them to develop better time management skills, many still feel like the day is not long enough to get everything done.

“College has definitely helped me get better at prioritizing, but there’s still never enough hours in the day,” Carucci said.

This continues the ironic cycle. College classes may be stressful for students, who may develop unhealthy sleeping patterns or habits.

If these unhealthy sleeping behaviors continue, it may cause students to stress out about getting enough sleep.

Another explanation of the lack of sleep is the increased presence of social media.

According to Huffington Post, there seems to be a connection between texting and lack of sleep. A small study done by Washington and Lee University shows a relationship with increased texting for college freshman and poor sleeping patterns.

Text messages may wake a student up, disrupting their sleep. Also, new cultural expectations have increased the pressure to be available to respond to messages at all hours of the day, making students feel guilt for unreturned messages.

This can further be applied to social networking sites, such as Facebook or Instagram. Students may lie in bed scrolling through their friends’ news feeds, afraid of missing out on something.

The use of your phone before bed affects your sleep due to the impact of mobile radiation and brain stimulation.

There are many reasons for the decline of a good night’s sleep among the college student. No matter which reason holds true for us at USD, the problem with our sleep cycle still remains.
How do we stop this cycle? The answer is simple: sleep.

While this solution may seem like a paradox, it is the easiest and most ignored answer to the growing problem.

The only way to fight these patterns is to regulate your sleep cycle. By simply scheduling your day to allocate the recommended eight hours of sleep per night, sleeping will become part of your routine.
Making sleep as important as studying, work or socializing makes sure you get it done, which allows you to better complete the tasks in your day ahead.

Other substitutions for sleep, such as coffee, are only temporary fixes. While they can perk you up and bring you energy in the morning, it makes the rest of the day drag on.

I am not saying that the solution is to get rid of caffeine; I would be lost without my large iced coffee every morning. What I am suggesting is a cultural shift in thought, where sleep is valued among college students.

We need to stop the ironic cycle of putting studying before sleeping. Sleep is what allows us to remember the quadratic formula and the socialization theory.

While studying is important, we are only as good as the amount of sleep we got the night before. That sleep allows us to concentrate on our studies and remember what we learn. Without it, we are likely become tired and sick, which will hurt our studies as well as our social life.

College students are good at prioritizing, but sometimes only when it comes to academic and social commitments.

Sleep needs to be a top priority among USD students. In our busy days, the one thing we cannot procrastinate on is sleep.