BY DAVID GUTIERREZ
College students are busy with classes, homework, social lives, and oftentimes, jobs on top of everything else. That doesn’t leave much time for sleep, so many college students end up getting less than the recommended 7-9 hours per night. Most students average somewhere closer to 6 hours, which is close to the recommended amount, but there’s a significant portion of the college community getting far less sleep than that.
Unfortunately, even an hour of missing sleep per night can add up, negatively impacting your study habits—and your college performance in general.
How Insomnia Affects Your Studies
Missing out on sleep regularly may not seem like a big deal if you’re able to get to class on time and muddle through with the help of caffeine—especially if the other members of your peer group are going through the same experience.
However, lack of sleep can affect your studies in multiple ways:
- Missing sleep—even one night of it—can interfere with your ability to focus. Your brain will have trouble staying on task, which means you’ll drift off in the middle of a lecture, and you’ll find yourself re-reading the same sentence, over and over again while studying on your own. It’s an incredibly inefficient way to study—and a frustrating one at that.
- Tiredness and sleeplessness are also associated with impaired memory, even if you take caffeine to counteract your feelings of exhaustion. That means you’re less likely to remember details you hear, see, or read about, which defeats the entire purpose of studying.
- To a lesser extent, missing out on sleep can impact your mood, which can, in turn, impact your performance in class. If you’re chronically irritable and/or depressed, you may refuse to go to class altogether, or skip out in the middle of a study group because you’re frustrated with the other people.
- Finally, don’t underestimate the impact that missing sleep can have on your health. You’ll be more susceptible to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, and you’ll also be more vulnerable to colds and physical illnesses—which can take you out of school for days.
Identifying the Root Cause
There are many simple, practical tips for getting a better night’s sleep, but chances are, there’s one or more underlying root causes specifically responsible for your lack of sufficient sleep. Identifying and understanding them is the best way to improve your sleep habits.
These are some of the most common:
- Noisy roommates. If your roommates are night owls, they may disturb you while you’re trying to sleep. They may also bother you unintentionally; since stress is a leading cause of snoring, it’s entirely possible that one or more of your roommates could start snoring during their time at college. Either way, you’ll need to have an open conversation about how you can accommodate each other’s needs, potentially including finding a new roommate (in extreme situations).
- Overbooked schedules. You may also have an overbooked schedule, especially if you’re working in addition to being a full-time college student. If you have 17 hours of activities booked in your schedule for the day, that leaves you only 7 hours to get home, decompress, and get to sleep. If this is the case, it may be time to cut some activities.
- Insomnia and stress are highly correlated, so it’s natural to experience sleeplessness in high-stress situations, such as the week before finals. Take precautions to reduce and manage your stress load, such as physically exercising and meditating.
- Misplaced priorities. You may also be losing sleep simply because you haven’t made it a priority. You might prefer staying up late at night with your friends, or attending parties in addition to your already-packed workload. You have to make sleep a priority, or it isn’t going to work.
- Formal sleep disorders. In rare cases, you may be experiencing an inherited sleep disorder, independent of what you’re experiencing at college. It’s worth talking to a doctor to find out.
If you want to perform at your best and study more effectively, you need to get the full amount of the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. That may require making some sacrifices, and rearranging your schedule, but ultimately, you’ll be able to learn more in less time, and you’ll feel happier, healthier, and more energetic. Don’t let something simple, like lack of sleep, prevent you from making the most of your college experience.
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.