If Sara Amell had her way, she’d always get 8 hours of sleep. But when you’re a student, an RA, and a member of the marching band, sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day.
“I personally dealt with a lot of late nights, very late nights,”says Amell. “If anything, sometimes I’d have all-nighters and honestly they’re not the best.”
She adds, “I can remember getting up after maybe having an hour of sleep, running to class, turning something in, maybe being late, but also feeling sick the whole day.”
But experts say that next-day lead-in-your-veins feeling is often just the tip of the iceberg.
“It’s correlated with poor school performance and ability to concentrate in class and ability to recall event,” says Sandy Jin, a doctoral fellow at WNEU. “It’s also been shown to be correlated with an increased risk of obesity, anxiety and certain behavioral and emotional problems.”
It’s recommended students get at least eight hours a night, but Jin says some are only getting 20 to 30 percent of the recommended average.
Sleep deprivation can also have a huge impact on GPA. In fact, studies show students who get enough sleep average a full letter grade higher than those who don’t.
“On occasion, I’ll have games late at night, get home at 8:00 p.m. and then I’ll have four hours of homework, and that’s 12:00 p.m. right there — plus dinner, so I’m up until like 1:00 to 1:30 a.m.,” says Nikolai Wright, who wakes up at 5:30 a.m. during the school year.
“I have friends who can sleep three hours a night and they’ll be okay for the day and they do well academically too, it’s just, I know that my body can’t handle that,” says Amell.
Of course, staying up late isn’t a new phenomenon for college students, but today’s coeds are getting about an hour-and-a-half less sleep than students in the ’70s and ’80s. Experts believe technology may be to blame.
“Not only my phone, but my laptop,” adds Amell. “Honestly, even doing school work, computers and technology these days, you don’t really focus on what you need to.”
Jin recommends removing those distractions — or at least moving them to the other side of the dorm — when it’s time to sleep. It’s also important to coordinate a bedtime with your roommate. And, if for some reason you just can’t resist surfing the web, there’s an app for macs that will literally give you that self control. It’s called Self Control, and Amell plans to give it a try next week.
“I can block certain sites for a few hours and there’s not way around it, so if I turn that on and I can’t access Facebook or Tumblr, then it will help me,” says Amell. “I’ll be able to go to sleep sooner.”
Experts say exercise can also improve the quality and duration of your sleep.”