Op-ed Uncategorized

The (sleep) struggle is real

College kids are suffering from a lack of sleep. A 2017 American Academy of Sleep Medicine study states that two weeks of getting less than six hours of sleep is equivalent to someone not sleeping for 48 hours. College students compromise their sleep and thus get so sleep deprived that they are equivalent to someone going without sleep for two days.

According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) 2017 study,  it is estimated that people between the ages of 18 – 22 should get seven to eight hours of sleep. I currently work for Courtney Zentz, founder of her own sleep consulting company. I discussed my sleep habits with her and she came up with a great list of reasons why my sleep is lacking and how to fix it. Here are the top five most common reasons why college kids are losing sleep:

1. Caffeine

First, caffeine is available around every corner of campus and drinking caffeinated beverages during the day and on nights-out where they hand-out Red Bull and Vodka in mass equates to poor sleep. Think of caffeine as the villain which prevents Adenosine, the substance that promotes sleep, to be released.

2. Blue Light

Blue Light, or the light emitted from a TV, phone or tablet is a stimulant that causes your brain to essentially ‘fire up.’ When we use these devices within an hour of bedtime, it causes trouble when we power down for the night. We need to make it a habit to turn it off and leave it across the room —  it’s too tempting to have social media at our fingertips.

3. Napping

Naps can be a college student’s best friend; they give us a break to recharge. However, naps impact your body’s ability to build the right amount of sleep pressure up to head to sleep. If you are going to nap, you need to understand the window of time for your own body where it’s helping take the edge off, but isn’t lasting so long or too late into the day that you can’t reset for bed.

4. Lack of Routine

Consistency and routines are not popular with students. Students have the busiest schedules of them all so it’s hard to get a routine down. A lack of routine can throw your body’s circadian rhythm off balance, confusing its signals for bedtime and waking. If every day is different, the firing of these hormones is different, causing issues with settling and staying asleep.

5. Disruptive Sleep Space

Your sleep space should be a sleep sanctuary. Make your space a place where you can unwind and relax before bed. Grab a book, keep devices out of there, don’t snack too late and avoid too much noise in your room. Watch your alcohol intake; its impact on sleep is serious. Although alcohol will help you fall asleep faster, it blocks your ability to get restorative sleep, which is why you also wake feeling unrefreshed.

These five things will help eliminate drowsiness and the other harmful effects of sleep deprivation. After giving me this advice, I tried it myself and while it was tough to lay off Netflix, I can say I got some solid sleep (according to my Fitbit). So, try implementing one or two of these tips and see what happens. Sweet dreams.

Ally Donahue is a fourth-year communication studies major at West Chester University. AD867425@wcupa.edu

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