College students tend to have erratic schedules. They have to balance social and academic lives and often have to stay up late into the night to do so.
However, most of the time, this tends to cut into the required eight-hour sleep most humans need every day.
Dr. Alan Peiris, an attending physician for endocrinology and vice chair for academic affairs at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, said the United States as a whole tends to deprive itself of sleep, which impacts peoples’ health.
“If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not allowing your body to recuperate,” Peiris said. “So the question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Why is that?’”
Peiris deals with diagnosing sleep apnea, a disorder that causes irregular breathing while asleep and one that he believes is under-diagnosed. Peiris said symptoms of the disorder include waking up tired, headaches and snoring or lack of breathing when asleep.
Numerous students stay up at late hours studying out of stress to finish assignments on time, but evidence suggests stress only gets worse without sleep. According to the American Psychological Association website, 35 percent of Millennials give the reason for having less than eight hours of sleep as having so many things to do in so little time.
Additionally, 21 percent of adults only feel more stressed when they do not get enough sleep, according to the website.
Dr. Richard Lampe, pediatric section chairman at HSC, said students should avoid certain practices in order to sleep better at night, including avoiding caffeine after 3 p.m., avoiding alcoholic beverages right before bed and cutting down on use of electronic devices with screens before sleeping.
“It is generally recommended that you not use screens in front of your eyes for at least 30 or 40 minutes before you’re ready to go to bed,” Lampe said.
Lampe said exercising in the morning or late afternoon as opposed to night can also help one sleep better.
In regard to academic reasons for missing sleep, Peiris said planning is the key to balance academics and a healthy amount of sleep.
“You have to put in the time to get the results,” Peiris said. “You have to plan out your schedule, and you have to get enough rest. I would not only say get enough rest but eat a reasonable diet and get activity.”
Peiris said cramming information as opposed to reading it systematically makes the information less processed.
Lampe said he believes students who get the necessary sleep tend to perform better academically.
“Clearly, people who are in college are already bright,” Lampe said. “But, getting enough sleep assures that their memory and their thought processes and thinking will still remain driven.”
According to a study conducted at Vista College called How to Sleep Better and Improve Academic Performance, those who tend to sleep longer — about nine hours or more — have an average GPA of 3.24, while those who sleep less than six hours have a 2.74 average GPA.
Additionally, those who sleep at least seven hours score 10 percent higher on exams, according to the study.
Peiris said one last thing people can do is simply look for improvement in both managing stress and finding more time to sleep.
“You have to really look at what you’re doing, where you’re going, and see whether you can do better,” Peiris said. “Getting eight hours of sleep I think should put you at your best. Assuming, that is, uninterrupted, restful slumber.”