The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that adults should get at least seven hours of sleep every night. But a 2013 Gallup poll showed 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep every night, and college students are no different. A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found more than two-thirds of college students get less than seven hours of sleep per night.
Lack of sleep can take a toll on students’ health. A journal article titled “The Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation” in Sleep Medicine Reviews found sleep deprivation could lead to a higher risk of diabetes and obesity. Other health risks include drowsy driving, decreased attention span and heart problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Students often find it difficult to sleep well while trying to balance attending classes, completing assignments and participating in extracurricular activities. Although students have more flexibility to choose their class schedules, some classes are only offered during a certain time block, like early in the morning, and many extracurriculars and club meetings take place at night, making it difficult to sleep for more than seven hours.
However, there are a number of things college students can do to guarantee they sleep at least seven hours every night. Students can create their own schedules to try to accommodate their sleep patterns, commit to a reasonable number of extracurriculars or take naps between classes and activities. They can also cut down the number of hours they spend on technology. The Nielsen Company reported that the average adult spends 11 hours on technology every day.
Students need to prioritize sleep not only to be able to pay attention in classes and be engaged in everyday activities, but also for the sake of their well-being. Taking small steps, like not checking social media constantly and trying to create an accommodating schedule, can reduce health risks that can affect students later in life.