Sleep Deprived

Living and sleeping in a room with seven other roommates can come easy to some, but is definitely a struggle for others.

I was put into supplemental housing this semester with seven other roommates, so adjusting to college life has definitely been much different for me than most freshmen. One thing I have to be mindful of is the fact that I have to be awake for two 9 a.m. and two 8 a.m. classes a week. This means I need to set my alarm for a painfully early time if I want to beat the early morning Starbucks rush.

sleep-deprived1I have to set my alarm at a very loud level since I’m a deep sleeper, but what I have noticed is I wake up half the room by accident when I do this.

I began to wonder what makes me a deep sleeper? What makes others light sleepers?

According to a Time article by Alice Park, scientists have recorded in a study that certain people, depending on how their brains work, can cancel out ambient or environmental sounds better that others. From these studies, researchers hope that they can one day re-construct the brains of people affected by these sounds to cure their light sleeping patterns.

The brain constantly receives information, even in our sleep, says Park. Studies at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have conducted a way to see the brain wave patterns of sleep. These can clearly point out when and where interrupted sleep can take place within a deep sleep. This research was conducted by neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen.

Ellenbogen preformed a series of experiments observing 12 “healthy”, or normal sleepers in their sleep. The first night the experiment didn’t protrude any noise during their sleep, although on the second night they played various noises from flushing toilets to overhead jet sounds. (Park 2).

Ellenbogen then recorded the brain spindles, or measures of waves of sleep which are present in the thalamus. These measurements are electric impulses that the brain creates. On the first night, they found people who had more brain spindles sleep better on the second (Park 2).

In conclusion, Ellenbogen wishes to find a cure or produce a medication in which manipulates the spindles of people with less frequencies of them.

Personally, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and Ellenbogen’s research certainly provides very well cited investigations. Ellenbogen says two view points were always considered when ruling out variables in light sleeping. These variables only dealt with the independent variable of the actual sound and source of sound. Although, what is different about his experimental process is he that he looked at the dependent variable of what is happening in the brain itself, according to Park.


Sleep is a very interesting topic and is something we need especially as college students. With the various sounds that play a part in dorm life, apartment life, and greek housing; we have to all be aware that we aren’t alone and respective to the hard working and fellow Penn Staters among us.

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8 thoughts on “Sleep Deprived

  1. Summer A Carson

    Hi Olivia,
    I noticed that you mentioned “I have to set my alarm at a very loud level since I’m a deep sleeper, but what I have noticed is I wake up half the room by accident when I do this”. You should try getting a Fitbit becuase they have silent alarms! You set the time on your phone in the Fitbit app when you would like to wake up and the tracker bracelet you wear vibrates violently enough to wake you up. I found that by using a silent alarm I wake up more peacefully and in a better mood. Also a Fitbit tracks your sleep patterns and how well you sleep, so maybe this could help you understand your sleep habits more. Here is a link to the Fitbit website that explains how this all works

  2. Samuel Deluca

    Sleep deprivation has definitely been apart of my life. I have suffered from sleep deprivation to the point where I have become sick. The fact that I dropped my 8 am saved me from the effects of sleep deprivation in my first semester and I think has made me a more productive and attentive student. However, this blog made me more aware that I should always get my needed sleep.

  3. Jeffrey R Nelson

    Though this was an insightful post, and I’m glad I finally understand why I’m such a heavy sleeper. It’s funny how I noticed the connection between your post and examples in my personal life. I remember as a kid when I would have sleepovers with friends, I would always be the first one asleep and sleep straight through the night, but some of my friends were not able to sleep because they are light sleepers, and I tend to snore pretty heavily when asleep at night. I definitely will try to be more courteous now if I ever have to share a room with someone in the future! I liked your post so much I went and read some more about sleep deprivation because I am trying to determine if I am depriving myself of sleep. interesting read:

  4. Erin Nicole Kemp

    its crazy you have so many roomates! My roommate is definitely a night owl and it has adjusted my sleeping schedule a bit, but I would not consider myself sleep deprived because I still go to sleep whenever I want most of the time. Thankfully I don’t need specific conditions to sleep.

  5. Lauren Elizabeth Mcgonigle

    I am definitely not a morning person and never was, however when I came to school all of a sudden I can wake up on time. When I got here for summer session I thought it was going to be so hard waking up in the morning because I was late to high school EVERY DAY! I was very surprised and curious as to why all of a sudden I have become such a morning person. Is it because of stress, or anxiousness to start my day. I even continue to be a morning person as the year goes by. At home I was also a very very deep sleeper and here I have trouble sleeping sometimes and can not stay asleep as well. Do you think environmental factors have changed my habits… this is something to look into. Great article!

  6. zvk5072

    Ugh, that sucks having early classes. I only have one class before 10. It is interesting to see how “morning people” can become the exact opposite when they come to college. I found an interesting article on the do’s and don’ts of scheduling classes: While I’m pretty happy with my schedule now, I do worry about having 8ams at some point.

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