Lack of sleep affects college students’ lives

Taylor Moore
LV Life Editor

Sarah Weston, a trainee in psychology in the University of California Los Angeles’ Counseling and Psychological Services program, led a workshop to inform students on the importance of sleep and how a lack of it can have a huge effect on daily life, specifically in college students on Monday via Zoom.

The event was hosted by the University of La Verne’s Randall Lewis Center for Well-Being and Research and was open exclusively to students from the University. It was part of the center’s Mental Health Monday’s program.

Weston started the event with a presentation regarding how important sleep is for the human body. 

“The amount of sleep an individual gets, not just each night, but over extended periods of time, has an impact on important cognitive processes that are needed for school, work, and everyday life,” Weston said. 

She said that lack of sleep has been shown to have negative impacts on memory, learning, and attention. 

In her presentation, Weston revealed that college students in the U.S. rank last in the amount of sleep they get. The presentation provided the following statistics:

  • 68% of students have trouble falling asleep 
  • 70% of college students sleep less than 8 hours a night 
  • 12% of students have trouble sleeping and fall asleep in a class a minimum of 3 times a month
  • 35% of students stay up past 3 a.m. doing schoolwork at least 2 times a week 
  • 20% of students pull all-nighters at least once a month 

Janessa Montoya, junior kinesiology major, said that her sleep schedule has not been the best since she has to be up by 5 a.m. for work on the weekends. During the week, she usually stays up late so she can get her homework done. 

“My sleep habits are okay,” Anthony Harriman, junior physical education major, said. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to fall asleep and sometimes I don’t feel rested when I wake up.” 

Weston said that college students try to make up for lack of sleep with caffeine to keep them energized throughout the day, but that can negatively affect them. 

“Consuming too much (caffeine), especially later, can lead to a cycle of relying on caffeine to compensate for poor sleep quality,” she said. 

Students also rely on naps during the day to catch up on sleep, but napping for long periods of time can lead to insomnia at night. Naps are best taken in the afternoon, and any nap between 20 to 90 minutes is considered beneficial, while anything longer can lead to grogginess. 

Weston provided a list of helpful tips for college students to improve their sleep hygiene: 

  • Try to keep your bedroom quiet and dark and cool. Temperatures from 65 degrees to 72 degrees are recommended for the best sleeping conditions 
  • Try to go for a no gadget rule before bed. This means no phone, television, computer, etc. at least 60 minutes before sleep since the blue light can stop the production of melatonin, a chemical released in the body while a person sleeps
  • Engage in relaxing activities before bed, such as yoga, mediation or sleep apps that play soothing sounds or tell stories 
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day 

Madison Laughlin, a sophomore kinesiology major, said that her sleep habits are good, but since she usually gets seven to eight hours of sleep, they can be improved. 

“I definitely need to stay off my phone before my bed,” she said. 

Montoya had no idea that the temperature of a person’s room can help them sleep, and plans to utilize that information to improve her sleeping habits. 

“I need to start waking up at a routine time, sleep in a much colder environment, and stay off my phone and computer at least 30 minutes before I go to bed,” she said. 

Taylor Moore can be reached at taylor.moore@laverne.edu.

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