Lack of Sleep Linked to Negativity
Poll says 63 percent of college students lack sleep
May 11, 2005 7:41 PM
Between studying, working and maintaining some sort of a social life throughout college, students often tend to ignore one very important factor - sleep.
A recent poll conducted among college students by the National Sleep Foundation suggests a link between sleep deficiencies and negative attitudes and behavior.
“Some of the problems we face as a society, from road rage to obesity, may be linked to lack of sleep or poor sleep,” said the foundation's Director Richard L. Gelula.
According to the poll, 63 percent of college students - and 60 percent of American adults in general - do not get enough sleep. Those who reported getting fewer than six hours of sleep on weeknights reported more incidents of being tired, stressed and sad than those who said they slept at least eight hours.
Overall, those who said they did not get enough sleep reported more dissatisfaction and anger, while better sleepers said they had more energy and were relaxed and happy.
Stress is often considered the number one culprit behind sleep difficulties, said Dr. Rafael Pelayo of the Stanford Medical Center Sleep Disorders Clinic.
“Some common triggers of stress are often school or job-related pressures,” Pelayo said. “This oftentimes leads to sleep deprivation in the person dealing with the stress.
“When you are faced with a continual lack of sleep, it can start to affect your attitude and personality.”
Students at SF State said they can see the link between sleep and mood in their own lives.
“It makes sense to me,” said junior political science major Cara Diaz. “When I am tired, I tend to be cranky and sometimes snap at the people around me.
“I think a lot of the people I know don’t get enough sleep. It definitely comes second to everything else that is going on in our lives right now.”
With so much to do as the semester’s end draws near, Diaz said finding time to sleep can sometimes be very difficult.
“I have classes almost all day on Mondays through Thursdays, and I work a few nights a week,” Diaz said. “Then I still have to find the time to study and write papers, which I usually do late at night, after I get off of work.”
Finding a balance between everything is often a stressful task for college students, leaving some to find needed sleep whenever and wherever they can.
“I guess we really don’t get enough sleep because I always see students sleeping in the library,” said sophomore history major Tobias Guerrero.
The library is often filled with students who set out to study, but have opted instead for a short nap.
“I think for every college student sleeping habits are irregular,” Gelula said. “It always seems to get worse as exams approach. One of the reasons students do not get enough sleep is to have extra time to study, but their study time would be more efficient if they had more sleep.”
So is there anyway to break the vicious cycle?
According to the “healthy sleep tips” from the foundation’s Web site, students need to adhere to a strict nighttime sleep schedule that does not allow for a lot of napping during the day. Even a short daytime snooze can make it difficult to sleep that night, setting up a cycle of insomnia.
Although a lot of students get through the day by downing a lot of caffeine, another tip from the Web site said that students should shy away from it, especially when it comes close to bedtime.
With all of the responsibilities that students have, the worries can build. Gelula recommends scheduling “worry time” during the day to think over issues that may be troublesome and make a plan to resolve them. Then when it comes time for bed, the day’s worries will not keep students awake.
With just a few more hours of sleep a day, students can be more productive and maybe a little less irritable.
“I know I can be hard to live with sometimes because I am always tired,” Diaz said. “Thank God my roommates love me, though.”
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