This is the penultimate time of the school year during which most of you are probably pulling all-nighter to study for your midterms. Who cares about sleep, right? Well, you definitely should care about it because it will get you closer to that “A” than pulling an all-nighter would.
Recent studies by researchers from University of Michigan Ann Arbor demonstrate that 50 percent of college students experience daytime sleepiness and 70 percent of students do not sleep sufficiently. The findings suggest some inducers of sleep deprivation may be due to the plethora of responsibilities that college students have on a daily basis. How many times have you felt that there were not enough hours in a day to accomplish something? Often, when you finish one assignment, the second one does not trail too far behind. Along with assignments, the high tuition fees force students to take on multiple jobs outside of classes, and this usually comes with its own opportunity cost. Although sleep deprivation may maximize the hours in a day, the quality of work will diminish.
You must have heard the saying, “Your body is a machine.” As a machine, it needs time to recharge and refuel its energy. According to the article, high school and college students almost face a one to three hour sleep deficit on school nights, and this can often times shift the homeostatic drive. Homeostasis is the regulatory physiological mechanism in the human body. Sleep cycles are more specifically driven by circadian rhythms in a temporal physiological system. Though unknown, these researchers have mentioned that there is a trend between age and the change in homeostatic drive in adults and young adults. This causes adults to generally lead a semi-nocturnal life style, which we more colloquially phrase as “night owl.”
The concern may not just center on lack of sleep, but also on some pre-existing sleep disorder. In this study, they conducted a survey involving 1,845 students in introductory psychology labs at Ann Arbor. The results suggested that 27 percent of students were at risk for at least one sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg disorder and periodic limbic movement disorder, and circadian rhythm sleep disorders. In additional to the physiological aspects, sleep may cause mood and psychological effects as well. According to their data, 14.8 percent of college students suffer from depression to suicidal symptoms. For female college students, a sleep deficit of two hours per night has shown greater depressive symptoms. In fact, there is correlation between sleep deficit and the progression of depressive symptoms. If this is you, please do not disregard your condition, and continue to take care of yourself.
Still want that “A”? Trust me, it will continue to stay further away if you continue to pull all-nighters. Although GPAs are not best estimation of a person’s intellect, there are some associations with students who sleep longer than others. The ones who sleep for longer hours (> 9 hours) tend to have GPAs greater than a 3.0 than those students who sleep shorter hours (< 6 hours). Furthermore, their study even showed students improving in classes with increased sleep hours.
Days will be 24 hours according to our framework of time. It is up to you to decide how to use those hours. They are precious, but so are you. There is always an opportunity cost in what you do, but health should be just as much of a priority. Sleep deprivation, in various studies, can cause sustained deleterious symptoms in the future. Sometimes that “A” is not worth the time you wasted by not sleeping.