By the Health Center
When was the last time you got 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep? Are you in the habit of pulling “all nighters” to prepare for classes or exams? It is a fact that college students do not get enough sleep. The college culture is one in which the students feel they do not require a lot of sleep to function.
Recent research estimates that 70 million Americans are believed to be sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation can be characterized by a number of different behaviors. These include inability to concentrate, falling asleep during the day (even in class), difficulty awakening in the morning, and even depression in some cases. There is data suggesting that after 19+ hours without sleep, performance on cognitive tests reached levels equivalent to those associated with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.1 percent. In the majority of states, a BAC of 0.08 percent is grounds for a DUI. Translated, this means if you pull an “all-nighter” you don’t have enough brain function to legally drive a car, let alone comprehend anything that you are studying.
Sleep is something that is essential for your body to stay healthy as well. Reduced amounts of sleep can result in a weakened immune system and reduce the body’s defenses against common colds and viruses. Findings also suggest that a hormone is released during sleep that assists in the growth of tissues within the body and the creation of red blood cells, which are responsible for supplying oxygen to the entire body.
There are several things you can do to try to improve the amount of quality sleep that you get each night. Some simple tips include:
1. Wind down for the night at least 30-60 minutes before bed.
2. Reduce caffeine use late in the day. Don’t use tobacco.
3. Regular exercise can help with sleep, but avoid strenuous exercise within 2 hours of going to sleep.
4. Take a warm shower to help you relax.
5. Have a light carbohydrate or dairy snack before bed.
6. Avoid drinking large amounts of fluids late in the day.
7. Do not have a visible bedroom clock—this prevents “clock watching” which can lead to insomnia.
8. Try to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time each day, allowing at least 7 hours for sleep.
If sleep continues to escape you despite good habits, keep a sleep log and call the Health Center at 610-526-7360 to schedule an appointment.