How Sleep Impacts Your Success in College

Academic performance hinges on quality sleep. It is a scientifically recognized fact that there are several significant factors which contribute to insufficient rest of young students. One of these factors is definitely sleep delay which is a common occurrence in adolescence. However, and many a student would clamor in approval of this statement, classes that start too early are adding to the problem as well. A night of solid sleep can decide how a student walks that fine line between grades and it impact their success in college overall.

Multiple factors need to be taken into consideration

Interestingly enough, academia appears to be catching on with this conundrum. For example, overt political initiatives in the US are gaining momentum to delay the beginning of classes, and it appears that other countries are eager to follow suit if the method works in favor of better grades and efficient academic performance.

However, it is not all about schedules. Traditional student sleep advice will also recommend a change in diet, isolation from excess noise, and a correction of sleep-rhythm. All of these tips hold water, especially if they are combined into one power-routine. The change might not be immediate, and it can be quite hard to get into the hang of it, but patience works wonders.

Students usually start off that way

Most students develop messy sleeping patterns long before their freshman year. There’s a reason why the beginnings of sleep delay are rooted in adolescence – drastic physical changes and a cocktail of hormonal explosions lead to change in mood and restlessness. Sleepless nights and groggy mornings are almost a natural consequence of the firework of emotions and navel-gazing. Add a ubiquitous digital world to this mix and it’s a true wonder that young students get any sleep at all.

The research corroborates this

The effect of such behavior has been investigated in a recent study at a certain Minnesota university, where credible researchers have inspected the sleeping habits of roughly 55,000 students. The results were discouraging to say the least. Simply speaking, the ability to tackle complex concepts and engage with the numerous, often rigorously structured sets of ideas presented in variety of courses decreases drastically if the students have messy sleep patterns. It is safe to say that, without risk of sounding too dramatic, this can jeopardize their professional future.

Stress does all the rest

This is where the element of stress comes in. It is almost a tradition to pull an all-nighter before the big exam, but the combination of anxiety and sleep deprivation has a counter-effect to what the students expect. Stay awake for 16 hours – the brain’s ability to perform nosedives. Stay awake for 20 hours – you are comparable to a legally drunk person. It goes without saying that stress itself, especially if work and academic failures begin to compile, meddles with sleep.

Solutions aren’t out of reach

As it has already been mentioned, it is possible to find plethora of useful advice for breaking out of bad sleeping habits. The first item on the list is to avoid electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime. Paperback and hardcover books are preferred alternatives to digital editions, especially if the only reading “tools” at one’s disposal are tablets and laptops. Purchasing ear plugs and sleeping masks is recommended for noisy dorms.

However, one of the most important hacks to correct student’s sleeping routine is the acclimatization of body to consistent rest patterns. One should strive to hit the sack at the same time every evening. If getting up in the morning is an issue, moving the alarm out of hand’s reach is a solid solution.

There is a widespread and damaging misconception among people of all ages that students can endure lack of sleep “because they are young”. While it is true that their bodies are more robust and flexible, the research has clearly shown that the lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on the academic performance of college students. This is an alarming issue that needs to be addressed as this is the exact period of their lives when students need to build solid foundations for their future.

Caitlin Evans is a bookworm, photographer and dancer. She is also a medical student in love with science. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various health related topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu and caffeine.


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