No time for bedtime

By on October 23, 2003

There is so much that goes on in the lives of college students that fill a schedule, such as classes, work, school work, hanging out with friends. One vital activity that often gets left out is sleeping.

College students are becoming one of the largest groups with sleeping disorders. A study by Ohio University reports that college students are the most likely to have trouble sleeping because of stress in their lives.

Between going to bed earlier on weeknights and getting up late on weekends, students have very different sleep schedules that can often contribute to trouble falling asleep.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that college students get an average of six hours of sleep a night, when they should get at least eight hours a night.

“I usually get about six hours of sleep a night. If I have class, I try not to stay up past one since I get up around 7:45 [a.m.],” said Crystal Consalvo, sophomore biology major.

“It usually takes me at least 15 minutes to get to sleep once I lay down. After that, I’m out,” Consalvo said.

Psychologists believe that it is harder for students to fall asleep because of the added stress brought on by going to school.

“If I am ever having trouble falling asleep it is usually because I am thinking about stuff, or I am stressed out or annoyed,” said Zach Candito, sophomore mass communications major.

“I usually go to sleep between three and four, and then I get up around ten. It usually takes me a while to get up in the morning, but then I am not that tired during the day,” Candito said.

Even though students are not getting many hours of sleep, some try not to catch up during the day with naps.

“Occasionally I will take a nap, but I usually feel more tired after a nap,” said Candito.

“I rarely take naps,” said Lizzie Gernat, sophomore occupational therapy major. “I just feel like I am wasting the day if I take a nap.

“I also try to wake up early, eight or 8:30 if I have classes and then nine or 9:30 on the weekends. If I wake up late I can’t fall asleep at night so I try get up early,” said Gernat.

Sleep is a very important component of a healthy life style.

The National Sleep Foundation has published ten tips to help people sleep better:

1. Keep a regular sleep schedule. A regular bed time and sleep time are vital to maintaining a balanced sleep cycle.

2. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine stays in the body three to five hours after ingestion and can disrupt the quality of your sleep.

3. Avoid nicotine. It is a stimulant, and smoking before bed will make it difficult to fall asleep.

4. Avoid alcohol because it can cause nighttime awakenings, which lead to a less restful sleep.

5. Do not eat or drink too much close to bedtime. It makes you less comfortable when heading to bed.

6. Exercise at the right times. Finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime.

7. Use activities, such as reading or listening to music, as a pre-bedtime ritual.

8. Create a sleep-promoting environment. Have your room reflect how you like to sleep. Make sure the temperature and lighting are optimal for your sleep preferences.

9. Associate your bed with sleeping only. Do not do work in your bed because then you will associate it as a place of stress instead of relaxation.

10. Limit sleep time in bed. If you are not falling asleep within 20 minutes of getting into bed, get out and wait until you are tired again before trying to go to sleep. This way, you will prevent yourself from associating bed with other activities.

These steps can help students take full advantage of the time that they have to sleep, instead of wasting it being restless and stressed out.


About Sarah Sztuk