Being a first year student in college and as the semester progresses I found out pretty quickly that sleep is not a first priority in college. Throughout my life I have also been someone who NEEDS his sleep. If I didn’t get enough sleep the night before anything I had to do that next day whether it was go to school, or play in basketball game, or go to work, I would not be the same person as my normal self with the right amount of sleep I need. I hear that on average you should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Preferably, when I was living at home and not in college I would try to get 9-10 hours of sleep per night for me to feel the most rejuvenated I possibly could the next day.
Unfortunately I would never frequently get those 10 hours of sleep due the jam packed schedule I had back in high school. I was a 3 sport student athlete so my life was based around going to school from 8-2 every day, then getting on a bus to go to my sporting event I was participating in directly after school. After my sporting event which usually started at 3:30 pm and went until 7 pm I would then travel back to the school on the bus to get my car to finally go home at night. By the time I got home it was already around 8:30 pm. I would get my self settled in maybe grab some food and start my homework hopefully around 9 pm. By the time I finish my homework it was around 10:30-11pm and I’m exhausted. It usually gets close to being a 12 hour day and I go to bed knowing I have the same routine tomorrow. Going to bed that late and waking up at 6 am every day never gave me enough time to get the appropriate amount of sleep I hoped for.
Now… that was only my high school story. College, so far has been like that except without the sports that take up half my day it’s now school work that takes up half my day along with going to class. High school and college, I learned very quickly are extremely different. I unfortunately, before realizing it, scheduled my classes all early thinking to myself I could just go to class in the morning and just get all my work done during the day. Experiencing college for the first time, I have now understood how easy it is to slip up in your classes due to all the distractions you face, unavoidable or not. Going to class in the morning and getting the work load I have my life is all about time management. Yes… I’m human and do get distracted sometimes, which causes me to stay up until 3 am some nights writing papers that are due the next day but that seems to be a common theme with most college students here and everywhere throughout the country. Based on information given in this article, students who don’t get enough sleep could be because of the night time computer or technology use that the majority of college students and young adults use. Bright light from computers, tv’s, and phones can affect melatonin levels which is a hormone which regulates the amount of light received through the retina in your eye causing problems in sleep patterns and loss of sleep.
So why am I ranting about my daily life in high school and now my daily life in college? It all relates back to the amount of sleep I have been getting and why I think sleep is not a priority to college students. According to this new article I found studies from a UC Berkley student have shown that sleep not only refreshes you and your body keeping you healthy, but can actually make you smarter. Not sleeping or pulling an all nighter causes sleep deprivation and can lower the ability to learn information by 40%. Sleep also helps retain information you have previously learned and gives you energy for the next day to learn more information.
Another reason why I don’t think sleep is a priority for college students is because of the distractions such as partying with alcohol. Here at Penn State especially, being know as a party school, alcohol is used and abused here by many college students. According to the article alcohol may make you fall asleep faster, but disrupts sleep architecture which is the way our brain remembers sleep patterns and makes us feel refreshed the next day.
With large gaps in my day from class to class I find that taking a nap personally helps me a lot for my second half of the day. According to the article studies have shown that even short naps for only a few minutes help you recover and give you more energy for the rest of your day.
After reading these few articles about sleep patterns, deprivation, causes of sleep loss, and ways to improve sleeping patterns I feel confident that I can still continue to thrive in my classes, maintain a balanced and safe social life, and get enough sleep to keep my body fresh and my mind rejuvenated so I retain and learn new things each day.