Sleep Deprivation Is an Epidemic for Students — Here’s What Colleges Can Do to Help Manage

Today’s college students are under more academic pressure than ever, meaning that it has become even harder for them to maintain an ideal sleep schedule.

In fact, according to the NCBI, a majority of today’s students are sleep deprived, with over 70 percent of students sleeping less than 8 hours per night and others reporting feeling fatigued during the day when they’re attending their courses.

“There is so much happening on college campuses, both academically and socially, that sleep and rest are very low on most students’ lists of priorities,” writes Huffington Post contributor Jackqueline Baltz.

Social and extracurricular schedules, when combined with working and studying, have the potential to keep students awake at night. But what may be unclear is how exactly sleep deprivation impacts their success in school, health, and their overall well-being.

“College and university students tend to keep schedules that are really different from people who are out having jobs in the world,” Dr. Al Glass, then president of the American College Health Association, said in an interview with NPR. “Unfortunately, that’s nothing new. Only 11 percent of college students in a sample of 191 undergrads had good quality sleep.”

Sleep has an enormous impact on the way students learn. Being deprived of that sleep can have an enormous impact on their studies, as it directly impacts their memory, cognition, and motivation. Those negative effects compound twofold when students are sleep deprived for long periods of time, experts note.

“You can see the difference [most starkly] in a morning class,” Garry Fischer, a college admissions experts tells Today. “Students are lethargic, and class participation is minimal. They just can’t engage with their education when they’re forced to work against their circadian rhythms.”

It’s something that health experts and educators have noticed, and some have taken steps into making sure this isn’t a problem moving forward.

Many colleges offer students flexible options, including offering courses later in the day. Many have opened online courses to allow working professionals and students to have more control over their schedules. And now more than ever, college staff are training and providing students with materials and information to make them more successful and less stressed out, especially when exam time rolls around.

But there are also a number of things that students can do in order to be sure that they’re actively prioritizing sleep as a part of their daily self-care routine in order to ensure their success in college.

According to the medical experts at Healthline, there are a number of steps students can take in order to get a better night’s sleep. Those steps can include:

  • Developing and sticking to a sleep routine (even on the weekends)
  • Proper diet and regular exercise
  • Avoiding toxic substances like tobacco and alcohol
  • Avoid screens before bed
  • Avoid sharing the bed with children or pets
  • Adjust your room temperature to somewhere nearing 65 degrees
  • Use your bed for sleeping only

In making these changes, experts argue, students will be able to better keep track of not only their sleeping patterns, but they will also be creating healthy habits for themselves as they graduate from college and move on to their careers.

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