Snoozing and losing

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By Bethe Croy

 

In college, students have to make time for many things such as class, homework, projects, student organizations, work and socializing with friends. With such a busy lifestyle, many people end up sacrificing basic needs to make time for everything else.

Niemeier

Niemeier

Countless students are guilty of making one of the most common sacrifices: sleep.

Nearly everyone has been a victim of the “eight-hours-of-sleep-each-night” lecture, but many do not understand the true importance of getting sleep and the consequences of lacking proper rest.

Not getting enough sleep can affect everything, from someone’s mood to the way they eat throughout the day.

Brandi Niemeier, assistant professor in health promotion, said lack of sleep can effect many aspects of a person’s life, from becoming irritable and impatient to causing increased hunger and more.

“Lack of sleep also creates a problem with concentration,” Niemeier said. “When you’re in class, it’s harder to follow the materials that the instructor is presenting to you. That lack of ability to really have sharp thinking certainly affects the performance in the classroom.”

Many students believe a successful way to combat this sleepy behavior is to over-caffeinate themselves to get more energy. However, Whitney Henley, University Health and Counseling Services health and wellness coordinator, said caffeine sometimes gives a quick boost of energy, but it can interfere with sleep.

“Some students have a problem because they’ll use caffeine to stay up to cram, and then the next day they’re just zombies,” Henley said. “It’s really hard to take a

Henley

Henley

test if you haven’t slept well the night before, so it’s better to just study, cut yourself off, go to bed and then wake up refreshed.”

Besides interfering with the ability to concentrate and increasing irritability, a lack of sleep also can have a strong effect on someone’s emotional state. Matt Mallin, an associate counselor with UHCS, said a good sleep schedule should be a priority for college students because sleep plays an important part in both the physical and emotional well-being of a student.

“I think everybody can relate to the very basic notion of ‘how you sleep impacts how you feel,’” Mallin said.

Niemeier strongly emphasized getting into a regular sleeping schedule. She said every person is different, so testing different sleeping times is important to figure out what works best for an individual.

“The first thing to do to establish a good, healthy sleep pattern is to make sure that your body is rested, and once your body is rested, do some trial and error to figure out how much sleep you need each night,” Niemeier said. “Most people do need eight hours of sleep,.That’s pretty typical. Some people need more like nine hours of sleep, and some people can go with six hours of sleep.”

It is important to get up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time each night.

A good sleep schedule isn’t just about getting to bed on time. It’s also about sleeping uninterrupted, Niemeier said which means cutting down on distractions right before bed and making sure the room is dark, cool and quiet.

Alarm clock “snoozing” also should be avoided because it interrupts the sleep cycle over and over again; Niemeier said a person would be better off to wake up with only one alarm. The longer a person sleeps without interruption, the better the quality of the sleep.

 

Fast facts about napping

  • It boosts alertness. A NASA study found that a 40-minute nap allows for higher levels of alterness.
  • Napping improves learning and memories. MRI scans show that brain activity remains higher all day for hour-long nappers.
  • It’s sometimes better than coffee. Studies have shown that afternoon naps are the perfect way to re-energize and retain information, rather than running on empty and shoving too much information into an exhausted brain.

Information gathered from The Huffington Post