Sleep Deprivation Takes Toll On Many College Students

College student’s GPA’s are suffering due to the lack of sleep.

“Sleep deprivation can lead to lack of focus, shorter attention spans, and lowered motivation,” according to Mary Sue Fonkert, a therapist who studies sleep disorders and patterns. “These are all factors which can seriously affect performance in the classroom.”

The average 20 year old needs approximately eight hours of sleep a day. Sleep deprivation is a serious effect of not receiving the proper amount of sleep to carry on throughout daily activities. Many college students have classes, jobs, extracurricular activities, or athletics that require an appropriate amount of sleep.

The physical requirements of being an athlete cause them to need an even greater amount of sleep. However, the amount of time athletes are required to devote to the sport does not allow for an adequate amount of sleep. David Jensen who is a college athlete at a Division One school explains, “With 6 a.m. workouts every weekday morning and practice lasting until about 5:30 p.m. every evening, this leaves little time to get homework done and get to bed at a decent time.”

College students tend to sacrifice sleep for study when they have a big test approaching. They then develop habits to help them deal with the lack of sleep. These habits include consuming a large amount of caffeine and energy drinks. However, the lack of sleep will catch up with them and begin to take its toll on their performance in the classroom.

A recent study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that sleep deprivation in college students has about the same impact on GPA as binge drinking and marijuana use. Binge drinking and drug use in conjunction with sleep deprivation leads to an even greater risk of decreasing GPA’s.

Technology is also partly to blame for the lack of sleep in college students. Many college students take the time to check social media before going to sleep at night. This is especially harmful to them because looking at a glowing screen while lying in bed will increase stimulation and alertness in the brain.

Receiving quality sleep is crucial for college students whom are not receiving the proper amount of sleep each night. Here are a few tips on improving sleep:

  1. Make sure to stick to a sleep schedule. It is important to go to bed and wake up around the same time everyday, even on the weekends.
  2. Minimalize all distractions before going to bed. This includes going on a phone or laptop so that the brain is not over stimulated.
  3. Get physical activity throughout the day so that falling asleep at night is easier.
  4. Stress can cause the brain to stay active while trying to fall asleep. Stay on top of schoolwork to eliminate stress at night.

According to Fonkert, “We’re staying up later in a critical time of intellectual growth. We compromise the exchange of productivity for sleep in this process, impacting our grades and our ability to learn.”