Most college students do not get enough sleep. On average, students get around 6 hours of sleep per night. Busy schedules, work, and activity overload can contribute to sleep deprivation. Wellness and Health Promotion Services offers workshops that provide information and strategies to create and maintain a healthy balance between life, school and sleep.
Eight hours of sleep each night leads to good grades.
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Lack of sleep can cause many health issues. Sleep deprivation can impact the immune system function, and our ability to fight off infections becomes more difficult. We are more prone to getting upper respiratory infections, such as cold and flu, and may often feel “run down.”
Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity. With sleep deprivation, there is an increase in the hormone, ghrelin, which is associated with hunger for high calorie foods. There is a decrease in the hormone leptin which reduces appetite. This leads to weight gain in many people. Lack of sleep impacts brain function, attention span, mood and reaction times.
Consider seeing your clinician if you:
- Have trouble getting to sleep or wake up frequently during the night for a period of several weeks
- Fall asleep at inappropriate times even after a night of adequate sleep
- Have nightmares or night terrors (the experience of awakening in a terrified state without recollection of a dream) that interrupt your sleep
- Have been told by someone that you stop breathing during sleep, especially if you have morning headaches or fall asleep easily during the day
College students are often at risk for having mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and researchers believe that lack of sleep is a factor. An assessment of your sleep by a mental health professional may be best if you exhibit one or more of the following symptoms.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation, chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking, depression, anxiety and emotional vulnerability. The Harvard Mental Health Newsletter states that “Once viewed only as symptoms, sleep problems may actually contribute to psychiatric disorders”. People who sleep poorly are much more likely to develop significant mental illness, including depression and anxiety, than those who sleep well.
Consider making an appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services to discuss mental health concerns related to sleep.
The following resources can provide you with additional information on sleep and sleep disorders:
- National Sleep Foundation
- The Better Sleep Council
- Student Health Service, 618-453-3311
- Counseling and Psychological Services: 618-453-5371
- Wellness and Health Promotion Services: 618-536-4441
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep. Getting a full and restful night's sleep improves memory and concentration, reduces stress, and has been shown to contribute to a longer life and a healthier weight. If you have trouble sleeping, you may want to try not drinking caffeinated drinks after 4 p.m., stretching lightly before climbing into bed, and disconnecting from your cell phone or other technologies an hour before bedtime.
- Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Exercise helps to reduce stress, maintain weight, improve sleep, and boost energy level. If going to the gym and working out on your own isn't your thing, try bringing a friend to a group fitness class or going hiking on a nice day.