There is a big problem facing college students today. Students are sleeping less and not getting a healthy amount. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, as a nation, 35% of adults are not getting enough sleep. This comes out to about 84 million adults sleeping less than the recommended 7 or more hours a night.
The reality is that many students are overworked. Many take a packed course load, work a part-time job, and still try to find time to be social. However, a lack of sleep can severely hurt grades, among other things. Many college students cram before a test and pull an “all-nighter,” staying awake until the early hours of the morning. This ends up hurting in the long run, as being sleep-deprived impacts the skills needed to do well on tests, like memory recall and concentration. In fact, many students who pull an all-nighter often end up having have lower GPAs.
Lack of sleep can be caused by, and contribute to, mental health problems. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 44% of students experience symptoms of depression. Also, 80% feel overwhelmed by academic responsibilities, and 50% have struggled with anxiety. These mental health issues can hurt your ability to sleep well. Poor sleep also increases your risk of mood problems. This can lead to consequences with grades and work.
Another problem of sleep deprivation is drowsy driving. In this case, it is prevalent mainly among students who commute to school. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that 16- 24-year-olds are 80% more likely to be in a drowsy driving accident. Drowsy driving is like driving drunk: reaction times, attentiveness, alertness and decision-making skills are all impaired. When students don’t get enough sleep and then drive to class early in the morning, they not only put themselves at risk, but also everybody else around them. The only way to truly combat drowsy driving is to get a good 7 or more hours of sleep nightly.
As a college senior, I have personally seen the effects of sleep deprivation. I had two friends drop out of school due to their poor grades. They didn’t get enough sleep, causing them to skip class and do poorly on exams. Many of my friends and classmates don’t get enough sleep, instead choosing to stay up late doing schoolwork or being social. I am also guilty of not getting enough sleep as I often stay up late playing video games or (occasionally) studying.
Sleep is underrated when it comes to college students. Many treat sleep as a luxury only for the weekends, when it should be treated the same no matter the day of the week. The negative effects of an unfulfilling night of sleep outweigh the benefits of a few more hours of studying. College students need to start changing their sleep habits and schedules; until that day, sleepy students will sadly continue to underperform academically and fall asleep in class.