OPINION: Proper sleep is vital for college students

Getting enough sleep is important for everyone. Not sleeping enough is a really big problem, especially for college students. 

And yes, I know we hear this all of the time –– but don’t zone out just yet. 

We experience a whirlwind of emotions throughout the week, between making sure we are handing in our assignments on time, attending student events, sports obligations and club participation –– the list goes on. When we have all of these things to do, it can be very easy to prioritize them over our wellbeing.

Getting a healthy amount of sleep is essential for us, both physically and mentally, to get through tough school days. According to Psychology Today, when we don’t get an adequate amount of rest, our cortisol levels go up, increasing the reaction of stress in our bodies, making us more prone to react poorly to stressful situations.  

As reported by Mill Valley News, Excellhealth Sleep Center Medical Director Manzia Ehtesham ​​shared it is crucial to our wellbeing we recieve at least eight hours of sleep each night.

“[Your] brain is unable to control proper hormone secretion and perform all its functions without enough sleep,” said Ehtesham. “You will notice that it is difficult to focus, your reflexes are poor, your hunger increases, you’re less likely to handle stress well [and you] get cranky and angry easily.” 

From one college student to another, I can sympathize with you all about how hard it can be to get a solid eight hours of sleep. When you can feel the mid semester pressures, staying up past midnight feels like the only option to meet deadlines, especially when you have early morning classes.

Throughout the month of October, I was very guilty of doing just that. After about three weeks of that same habit, I became really sick and stayed sick. Looking back, I realize a big reason for my sickness was my inconsistent sleep schedule. I kept pushing and pushing, with less and less sleep under my belt, hoping all my problems would soon be resolved. But they only got worse. 

According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), getting less than six hours of sleep a night consistently for about two weeks can feel the same as 48 hours without sleep. Once you get into a routine of going to bed late at night, it can become very easy to do. We don’t realize how bad we feel because we are used to feeling tired and the feeling of a refreshed relaxed state is unknown.

After ending up in urgent care due to my body’s reaction to lack of sleep, I was hit with a huge reality check. I knew that pushing aside my sleep was not an option anymore. 

People who don’t get a quality amount of rest are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus or a common cold, and it can affect how fast you recover if you do get sick, according to The Beacon Health System

I needed to take care of myself. When I started to make sure I was getting at least eight hours of sleep, I started to feel like a new woman. My tasks throughout the days became a lot more doable. Focusing in class felt 10 times easier. I felt more efficient and happy. 

Scientific studies report that “sleep loss leads to learning and memory impairment, as well as decreased attention and vigilance,” said physician and sleep expert Clete A. Kushida, as reported by AASM

The administrative gradfellow of Suffolk University’s Center for Health and Wellness, Carolyn Byparda, agreed sleep is great for studying. 

“Your working memory is formed while you’re sleeping. So when you’re sleeping, all of that good studying that you do gets retained,” said Byparda. 

Remember when I said it was almost impossible for me to focus in class? I think I now can confidently say I know why. These few weeks where I didn’t feel like myself, I was here, there and everywhere except for my bed. 

We need to utilize our sleep schedules in order to push through the rest of this semester and survive the spring semester. Reaching to set a sleep schedule could be highly beneficial for all of us. 

Always remember that the Counseling Health and Wellness center on the fifth floor of 73 Tremont is a resource we all can utilize for some downtime amidst our busy days. 

Don’t overlook your wellbeing and please treat your bodies with care. I wish you all some lovely sleep in your futures, giving you the energy to finish off the semester strong.