The above graphic, while somewhat of a joke, depicts an all-too-common attitude college students have regarding the sacrifices they must make in order to have a balanced life. In many cases, focusing on just two of these goals does result in a significant compromise of the third. Quite often, sleep is the chosen sacrifice.
In a 2004 study by the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, over 50% of students “strongly agreed” that their academic performance would improve if they prioritized sleep. Furthermore, most students sited a minimum of 8 hours of sleep on a school night to be ideal. In this study, however, only 16% of students admitted to getting more than 8 hours of sleep, with almost 80% siting an average of 5-7 hours of sleep on any given school night.
Also noteworthy is the impact of social media on college students’ lives. Over 85% of students report taking their electronic devices to bed with them, and over 90% leave their phones on while sleeping. Less sleep compromises the immune system, increases the risk of getting sick, intensifies stress and anxiety, negatively impacts grades, lowers one’s metabolism and can result even in higher blood pressure.
How can students break this pattern?
- Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier each night
- Turn OFF your electronic devices while sleeping (and do not leave them within reach of your bed)
- Take advantage of the numerous breaks you have throughout the day for naps
For more information on changing sleep trends, follow the Huffington Post’s “Sleep Revolution College Tour” as they hold sleep fairs at over 30 college campuses across the nation. Huffington Post's Sleep Revolution College Tour