Let’s Talk About…
The Importance of Sleep
When working, going to school, taking care of family, and trying to fit all the tasks that need to be done can mean that sleep falls on the back burner. We can’t live without it, but we also don’t function as well when we run on very little. It’s common among college students, regardless of if they’re fresh out of high school or come from the workforce, to have a lack of sleep. This not only hinders students in their struggle to stay awake in class, but also in how their performance will drop. The students attending American National University have more than enough on their plate, and getting adequate sleep is important so they can continue to excel in their academics, work performance, and family life balance.
What happens when I don’t get enough sleep?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says it is vital for college students for their academic performance and success. For college students, most of the issues that arise from lack of sleep come from lack of quality sleep (such as from sleep issues like insomnia or sleep apnea) as well as too little sleep. And sleep deprivation has serious consequences—where it can actually be the same cognitive level of impairment as drinking alcohol. And driving while in sleep deprivation causes 1 in 5 car accidents—essentially, it is equivalent to drunk driving in impairment levels. It is recommended by the CDC that adults receive seven or more hours of sleep per night in order to be at full attention during the day and full cognitive ability—where this quantity is important along with the quality of sleep as well.
This is important because much of our memory creation is done while we sleep—so students who cram for exams, study hard, and take notes won’t retain as much as they try if they are not sleeping as well as they should be. Along with that, long, quality sleep will allow students to better prepare for stress that may come their way during their academic journey—especially ANU students who may be juggling so much on their plate along with their education. It can be a tough cycle as well—when we are stressed, we sleep less, which will lead to more stress. If that kind of spiral continues, it can lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety as well.
What are the signs of lack of sleep/sleep deprivation?
- Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- Trouble coping with stress
- Difficulty focusing, concentrating, and remembering
Along with these, these are signs you should look for if you aren’t getting quality sleep.
- Feeling restless even after a night’s rest
- Repeatedly waking up at night
- Snoring or gasping for air
What can help me attain quality sleep for longer?
The CDC recommends that you get into a sleep routine or sleep habits in order to improve your sleep (also known as “sleep hygiene”).
- Get into a routine and be consistent with it. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day—this includes the weekends as well.
- Make sure the room you sleep in is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
- Remove electronic devices from your bedroom—that means no watching television in bed, staring at your phone screen, or using your computer or laptop.
- Avoid eating large meals before bedtime. Try to eat light snacks about an hour before going to bed so you don’t go to sleep hungry.
- Get some exercise—staying physically productive can allow you to sleep better at night
Some additional tips from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine include:
- Avoid caffeine. Try not to drink coffee or any highly caffeinated drinks or food before going to bed. It can stay in your system for hours and make it difficult to fall asleep when you are trying.
- Adjust your lighting. Dim the lights so that your body and mind can be alerted that it’s time to sleep, and along with that, utilize the sunlight in the morning to boost your alertness.
- Have some time to wind down. Like keeping electronics away from your bedroom, you should also give yourself 15-30 minutes without them so that your body is not only made aware it’s time for bed, but so that your mind has time to relax and prepare for bed. To make this happen, read our Time Management article to see how you can better plan your time to schedule activities like this!
Struggling to stay awake in class could be one sign that you aren’t getting qualitative or quantitative sleep like adults are recommended to keep full cognitive function. American National University strives for all students to find quality academic success, so having better sleep habits can allow that for any student who joins our online educational pathways. One of the best parts of ANU is the ability to be live, in class, from anywhere you have an internet connection, so you can create your class schedule around your life. To learn more about how you can learn from the comfort of your own home, go to an.edu/elearning.
American National University – Be live, in class, from anywhere.