How Much Sleep Can College Students Actually Get?

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Ring! Ring! Ring! It’s Monday morning and the alarm just went off to start the day. I am most certain that a majority of college students debate whether or not to get up and start the day or to just hit snooze and catch a few more minutes of rest. Many students are so busy throughout the week and weekends with not only school, but also work. It’s almost always tempting to sleep in a few extra hours in an effort to regroup and restore for the upcoming week.

According to the National Institute of Health, college students account for one of the largest populations of sleep deprived individuals. Research at Brown University has reported that only 11% of college students report that they get good sleep, while 73% have sleep related issues that hinder them from getting a good night’s rest. Statistics from the National Institute of Health also show that 18% of college men and 30% of college women reported having suffered from insomnia within the last three months.

Similarly, research conducted by Shelley Hershner and Ronald Chervin, professors in the Neurology Department at the University of Michigan, concluded that during college years, “…inadequate sleep hygiene is common, as students often use technology and substances that compromise sleep quality and quantity. This chronic sleep deprivation may impair academic performance, mood regulation, and driving safety. Students who attain sufficient sleep may still struggle with sleepiness due to sleep disorders.”

These results have led to the evaluation of how much sleep college students can really get. Are they able to acquire at least eight hours each night?

“On average, I get about five to six hours of sleep on a week night. If I sleep for longer, I end up falling really behind on my schoolwork and that really stresses me out a lot. I rely on caffeinated beverages to keep me awake during those long nights of work. It is hard because I love to sleep, but I know it will be worth it in the end,” said sophomore Cynnique Johnson. Johnson is majoring in biomedical and health sciences.

Other students had similar thoughts.

“I find it hard to get eight hours of sleep. Most nights I go to sleep at 1:00 a.m., and end up waking up at 5:00 a.m. to do yoga and get ready for the new day. I generally have a lot of work to do and when I know I have things to be done, I cannot sleep comfortably,” stated junior Maria Lopez. Lopez is also a biomedical and health sciences major.  

Some students echoed different feelings on the subject.

“Majority of the time, I am able to get in bed before midnight, and I generally wake up around 9:00 each morning. There are some times, however, when I have a paper to write or a test to study for and I may have to stay up later to get it done. If I get less than six hours of sleep though, I find it hard to function,” stated sophomore Martina McKoy. McKoy is majoring in psychology.

On campus, it seems as though the number of hours of sleep students get is related to how well they are able to balance their schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and social life.

“I know that I won’t function normally if I don’t get my regular eight hours of sleep. As such, I try to plan my life around my sleep schedule, ensuring that it always stays intact. For me, sleep comes first and then everything else is fitted around that,” stated freshman biology major Laurian Simpson.

Other biology majors had contrasting views.

“My schoolwork and assignments always come first. If I know I have work to be done, I will always put that first and sleep definitely comes after. This does not always favor a regular sleep pattern or getting sufficient rest, but I am not comfortable knowing there is work to be done while I am sleeping. I realize that on days when I am really tired, short naps and coffee really help me get through the day,” said sophomore Adrienne Pierre.

The amount of sleep one is able to get seems to have also been related to how involved each student is on campus, how many classes they are taking, and the level of difficulty of each of their classes.

Undoubtedly, one would need to spend more time on more difficult classes and less time on easier ones. Similarly, a student who is not involved in any clubs or organizations on their campus will have more time to sleep when compared to a student who is actively involved in a host of clubs and organizations, who as a result of their involvement, will get less sleep each night.

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