As Benjamin Franklin stated, “Earl
y to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Getting enough sleep is vital. For a college student, it is even more important. Sleep, or lack of it, can lead to many different consequences. Your school work and GPA can even depend on adequate amounts of sleep.
Many college students get by on about 6 hours of sleep each night, but in reality, the average adult (those 18 and over) needs between 7 and 9 hours.
Some reasons to get enough sleep include: learning and memory, metabolism and weight, safety, mood, cardiovascular health, and disease.
Learning and Memory
Learning and memory both affect your performance in school. A lack of sleep can negatively affect grades. Reduced academic performance occurs because a lack of sleep leads to concentration problems and a poor ability to focus in class.
During a process called memory consolidation, sleep aids in binding new information to the brain. Missed sleep could also result in a poorer memory. According to Dr. Lawrence Epstein, MD, “New research highlights the importance of sleep in learning and memory. Students getting adequate amount of sleep performed better on memory and motor tasks than did students deprived of sleep.”
Many students rely on small amounts of sleep during the week and then assume they will make up for lost sleep during the weekend. However, students who follow this regime are actually more likely to perform poorly in the classroom. This is because the student’s internal clock will get confused and cause their routine to get thrown off.
It has also been shown that college students who pull “all-nighters” are more likely to have a lower GPA.
Metabolism and Weight
Not getting enough sleep every night can negatively affect your metabolism and weight. In fact, not getting enough sleep can lead to increased rates of being overweight or being diagnosed with diabetes and heart disease.
Sleep deprivation can cause weight gain by changing the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates. In addition, the same stress hormone that the body releases to make you more alert when you are sleepy also triggers your body to store fat.
Lack of sleep also leads to a damaged hormonal cycle. The result of this is usually that you will wake up sleepy and not hungry for breakfast. Breakfast is widely known as the most important meal of the day. Missing breakfast slows your metabolism, decreases your energy level, and messes up your eating habits. Missing breakfast can lead to weight gain because you will most likely eat more for lunch.
When someone does not get enough sleep during the night, they are at an increased risk of falling asleep during the day. This would be okay if a person was relaxing at home or taking a nap, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many traffic mishaps, road accidents, and medical errors have resulted in consequence of sleep deprivation.
When people are tired, they are more likely to take part in impulsive and reckless behavior. This can also result in injury.
People who do not get enough sleep are at an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Lack of sleep is also commonly known to cause irritability and impatience. Frequent moodiness may affect your relationships with other people.
Sometimes people’s mood is also affected because lack of sleep often inhibits people from doing things that they like to do.
Irregular heartbeat, hypertension, and increased stress hormone levels (remember, the ones that make you gain weight) are all problems that have been linked to sleep problems. If you feel that you have a serious sleep disorder, it is important to contact your doctor.
Lack of sleep leaves you at a higher risk of disease because your immune system will be functioning at a lower level. With a schedule and work load as crazy as a college student, you cannot really afford to be sick.
Make it a Priority
With all of the research that has been done regarding sleep, it is obvious to see that it is important. With busy school and work schedules, trying to keep a social life, and staying healthy through regular exercise, sleep is often the first thing to go. However, because it affects the other areas of your life so much, it is important to make it a priority. Make it a goal for yourself to get enough sleep each night.