Sleep deprivation plagues campus

Most students encounter sleep deprivation at some point in their college years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that, although the exact amount of sleep necessary varies by individual, the average adult needs seven to nine hours per night. However, a recent survey by the CDC revealed that about 29.8 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are sleeping for less than seven hours.

According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep deprivation can result in difficulty with learning and focusing, and obtaining a “good night’s sleep” can be linked to improved cognition and emotional wellbeing.

Biology junior Dillan Smith explained the obstacles sleep deprivation can cause.

“Throughout the semester, I would say that I get insufficient sleep about three days out of the week due to studying and school-related projects,” Smith said. “The day following inadequate sleep, I feel less physically active and drained. I feel less focused, more stressed and do not process information as well as I would if I were to have gotten sufficient sleep. The motivation that I usually have is just not there.”

Biology freshman Sydney Williams described the way she feels after pulling an all-nighter.

“This is my first semester in school and I’ve already had many sleepless nights — with tests at least once a week or every other week, I have at least one or two nights a week where I get less than seven hours of sleep,” Williams said. “The morning after is the worst; I feel exhausted.”

In addition to these physical and mental drawbacks from sleep deprivation, drawbacks associated with drink and food consumption during and after an all-nighter are also apparent.

Assistant professor of nutrition and obesity studies at the Department of Health and Human Performance Daphne Hernandez explained the nutritional drawbacks of sleep deprivation.

“From a nutritional standpoint, the concern with ‘all-nighters’ is the excess calories that are consumed. Many students depend on high-energy foods with little nutritional value to keep them awake, such as candy, chocolate and sugar-sweetened beverages,” Hernandez said. “The other concern is the amount of caffeine that is consumed during the all-nighter (and then during the day) to stay awake. Red Bull, Monster and similar products are popular among college students.”

The NIH indicates that individuals who experience sleepiness and doze off while reading, sitting in a classroom, after lunch or while driving could be suffering from sleep deficiency.

Although getting a full night’s sleep is ideal, demands of college interfere with students’ sleeping schedules.

“If an all-nighter must occur, then the key during (and after) all-nighters is moderation — staying hydrated with water and consuming lower-calorie foods, such as popcorn and fruit. Chewing gum is another alternative,” Hernandez said. “Rather than consume excess foods to fight off feeling tired, it is best to go to bed and begin the day early.”

The CDC suggests creating a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding large meals, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bedtime and keeping a sleep diary to track the amount of sleep for improvements.

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