There are a lot of factors that contribute to getting an adequate amount of quality sleep, especially in college. Quality is a keyword here, as it doesn’t only matter how much sleep one gets, but actually how well one sleeps. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep is vital because it plays a vital role in your health and maintaining your well-being throughout your life. Getting consistent and good quality sleep can help protect your physical and mental health by supporting healthy brain function, growth, and development. Not getting enough good sleep regularly could lead to a lot of serious issues.
In college, getting adequate amounts and quality of sleep becomes increasingly important because it directly affects your ability to learn, retain, and apply the information and knowledge being taught in class. Getting a consistent amount of sleep can be challenging each night, but figuring out a schedule and routine is crucial to having a successful college career.
Effects on Your Mental Health
Being well-rested and allowing your body to receive enough sleep helps your brain function properly and prepare for the next day. Each night, our brain works to store all the information we have learned from the day in our long-term memory so that we can retain and process the information at a later date. Sleep is what allows pathways to form in our brain so that we are able to learn and remember information. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can lead us to have poor decision-making skills, be slower to retain information, lack of control over our emotions, and lack of ability to cope with pain. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, children and teens who suffer from lack of sleep are more likely to suffer from mood swings, depression, and lack of motivation.
Effects on Your Physical Health
Sleep is crucial in regulating all bodily functions as far as physical health.
- Decreases risk of obesity.
This helps maintain a healthy balance of hunger hormones called ghrelin and leptin. Ever feel extra hungry the next day after not sleeping well? When we do not get enough sleep, our level of ghrelin goes up, and leptin goes down, making us feel hungrier.
- Keeps your immune system strong.
Our immune system also relies on the quality of sleep we receive. Our ability to fight off common infections decreases with consistent insufficient sleep, and our immune system’s response to harmful substances is weakened.
- Prevents microsleep.
After several nights of consistent lack of sleep, our body can reap the repercussions for 1-2 days afterward. It is so essential to maintain a good sleep schedule and consistent routine. Lack of sleep can actually lead to something called microsleep, which refers to brief moments of rest that occur when you are generally awake. This phenomenon can affect how we function.
For example, have you ever been in a lecture class and felt like the information presented doesn’t make any sense? You could have just experienced microsleep and just have not been aware of it!
Some habits that can be implemented to improve sleep include:
- Set a consistent bedtime routine and time to go to sleep and wake up every day, even on the weekends.
- Ensure at least an hour of quiet time before going to bed to ensure that your body has time to wind down.
- Avoid screen time, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, or any heavy meals a few hours before bed.
- Get enough physical activity throughout the day so you’re not restless at night.
The most difficult thing when it comes to having a good sleep schedule is ensuring consistency throughout the entire week and not only on weekdays. It can be tempting to want to stay up late and sleep in on the weekends, but making sure to stay consistent with our routine will ensure that our natural circadian rhythms are not messed up. This will allow our sleep schedule to remain intact and be happier, healthier, and more productive throughout our entire week and college career!