SAU Buzz

Sleep Deficiency and College Students

by Jessica Lewis
Posted on Nov 02, 2017

A sleep deficiency occurs when a person does not get enough sleep at night, sleeps at the wrong time of day, doesn’t sleep well or has a sleep disorder that interferes with quality of sleep, according to the National Institute of Health’s Sleep Deprivation webpage. We experience two kinds of sleep, non-REM and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, in patterns throughout the night.
An article by Live Science said that 80% of the time we spend sleeping is in non-REM sleep. During non-REM sleep, we do not dream. This is when the body is able to repair damage that it incurs during the day, regrow tissues, build bone and strengthen the immune system. If someone does not receive enough non-REM sleep, they will be more likely to be sick and will take a longer time to heal from damage. The other 20% of sleep is spent in Rapid Eye Movement sleep. This is the phase of sleep in which dreaming occurs. REM stages get longer throughout the night, according to Live Science.
The Cleveland Clinic’s website said that when someone does not get enough sleep, they are more likely to feel less alert, have impaired memory, be less likely to participate in daily activities. This can have a big impact on college students in particular. For example, if someone is trying to cram for an exam by staying up late and only getting 4 hours of sleep, they are less likely to remember the material that they studied or notice if they have made a mistake. Staying up late to study may help students catch colds before their test because their immune system is not able to function properly.
Lack of sleep may have long term effects as well. People who suffer from a lack of sleep are more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. They are also more likely to experience a heart attack, heart failure or stroke according to Dr. Harneet Walia’s article on the Cleveland Clinic website.
So how much sleep does a college student need? The recommendation for young adults is a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night, according to the Cleveland Clinic website. It is important to note that genetic, behavioral and environmental factors all play a role in how much sleep we need. Some individuals may require less sleep and some may require more, so 7 hours is a guideline. According to the University of Georgia, college students get an average of 6 to 6.9 hours of sleep a night. Just one extra hour of sleep a night can work wonders for memory, health and mental health.
Want some help improving your sleep? The University of Georgia’s health website has these tips:
Maintain a regular bedtime and wake time during the week
Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool environment
Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bed
Take a 20-30 minute nap at the same time each day