Wellness Wednesday Opinion: Is sleep for the weak?

Bethany Stover

College students and sleeping are two words that don’t always fit in the same box. Despite doctors and health professionals advocating for the typical 7 to 8 hours a night, that can be far from realistic. Most full-time students struggle to maintain the work, school, and social life balance and finding the time to sleep amongst it all.

Getting adequate sleep is crucial for optimal daily function, especially as a student taking multiple classes who needs the energy to use their brain all day. There are many differentiating opinions on what sleep schedule works best, if power naps are effective, and evaluating how necessary cuddling up to pillows for seven hours a night even is. Some may joke and say sleep is for the weak, however, just like eating, sleep is necessary for survival.

Sleeping is a part of life that most students put last on their list of priorities. For some, it is the procrastination on assignments that keeps them up. Many also have a job on-top of school, endless studying, stay out late going to parties, and everything else that gets in the way of a healthy dose of sleeping.

Staying up till 3 a.m. to study may help finish assignments on time, but there are many negative consequences. Sleep deprivation can cause memory issues, mood changes, weekend immunity, trouble concentrating, high blood pressure and more.

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How sleep deprivation negatively affects our health. Photo credit: photo credit: healthline.com

There are many factors that attribute to those who also are having trouble falling or staying asleep. Most students spend a majority of their school day and classwork time looking at a computer screen and then end their nights in bed scrolling through their phones.

The problem with this is that when an individual’s eyes are being exposed to that much blue-light throughout the day and right before bed, it may keep the brain working hard to stay alert as your eyes are being stimulated.

Blue-light glasses are a new and trending affordable option to keep your eyes from being strained all day. These glasses are made with no prescription, but instead a tinted lens that have filters in to block blue light, and in some cases UV light, from getting through.

Using these glasses when looking at a screen, especially after dark, help reduce exposure to blue light waves that can keep you awake. These glasses can be purchased on amazon and through most eye-wear companies.

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Blue-light glasses reduce harmful rays from screens and aid in sleep Photo credit: photo credit: LensCrafters

Caffeine and college students are two words that usually do fit together. The benefits of coffee and other caffeinated drinks may enhance one’s energy throughout the day, especially when they’ve had little to no sleep the night before.

The drawback of intaking so much caffeine throughout the day is that it will reduce the ability to receive quality sleep and will enable the bad habit of relying on external stimulants to give you energy rather than prioritizing natural sleep.

Doctors recommend staying away from caffeinated beverages past 3 p.m. to let the body prepare to calm down at night. If necessary, switch to decaf products at night or night time teas that aid in sleep. Avoiding late night stimulants will better enhance an individual’s quality of sleep and help them fall into deep sleep.

Sleep aid supplements do not work for everyone, but they are a great option for those in need. Melatonin pills or chews can be taken about an hour before bed to help regulate an individual’s sleep and wake cycle. Melatonin works to onset the body’s natural sleep hormones and help bring someone into a deeper and more relaxed sleep.

Receiving all the proper and necessary stages of healthy sleep will make a huge difference in a student’s energy levels when they wake up in the morning well rested. Sleep contributes to a person’s physical, mental, and emotional, all equally important areas for student success.