It should surprise no one that college students are extremely sleep deprived, and they do not get the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night. College is a very stressful time for students, where grades are the biggest priority and such things like sleep are shoved on the side as an afterthought. Although it may be hard to alter you schedule so that you can get an adequate amount of sleep, it has to be done because sleep is more important than college students think.
College students only get an average of 6 hours of sleep a night (1). Considering that that’s the average, it is crazy to think that some students get less than 6 hours of sleep and can still function during the day. For myself personally, I always plan out my nights so that I get at least 6 hours of sleep. I know that if I do not get at least 6 hours of sleep, that I will be tired and unfocused the next day.
College students know that sleep is important, but I think that they do not understand why it is so important. In simple terms sleep allows your brain and mind to recharge itself over night, but what does this actually mean? While you are sleeping your brain is extremely active, which is kind of counterintuitive when you think about sleep. In sleep you have four sleep stages (1-4) and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep at the end of stage 4. As you get further into the sleep stages, the waves become slower with lower frequencies. REM sleep has high frequency waves that actually mimic someone who is awake. The slow wave sleep and REM sleep are the most important sleep stages because that is where you consolidate memories. If you do not get slow wave sleep or REM sleep you are not able to consolidate memories, which essentially means that you will not be able to remember a lot of material that you studied the previous day. In order to consolidate memories, you need at LEAST 6 hours of sleep. So the less sleep you get, the less you are able to recall material from the previous day. Even if you study all night long and get minimal sleep, all that effort studying is lost because of the lack of sleep. If you plan on staying up all night, do NOT go to sleep. I know this is counterintuitive, but if you cannot get at least 6 hours of sleep than all that studying will be worthless because it will not be consolidated. This is why sleep, especially among college students, is extremely essential.
Studies have shown that students who get less sleep have lower GPA’s and perform worse on tests, than those who get more sleep (1). This makes complete sense because sleep’s main function is to consolidate memories so that you are able to recall them. As a college student I know that getting an adequate amount of sleep is easier said than done, but because sleep is so important it is essential that sleep is made one of our priorities. While researching some easy tips on how to maximize sleep as a college student, I came across a couple tips that I agree with.
Reduce caffeine intake (2)
Caffeine usually takes effect 3-4 hours after intake, so that is something to keep in mind when planning out your day. Obviously reduce your coffee intake before bed because it can disupt your sleep
Eat a diet that is rich in vitamin B (2)
Vitamin B helps you to have a restful sleep, as well as helps to reduce fatigue during the day (2).
Plan out your day so that you can plan out an adequate amount of sleep
Having a structured plan of what time you want to be in bed helps to give you an idea of how to structure the rest of your day in terms of work and classes.
The main point: get some sleep and make it a priority to get an adequate amount. Functioning on no sleep is not useful and actually reduces the amount of information that you can remember.