Students might be getting enough sleep, study says



Laurie McAdam color illustration of yawning student with notebooks and chalkboard equations, tired from all night study session. The Modesto Bee 2008

Starlight Williams

With the common belief that college students are sleep deprived, it’s no surprise that the crackling sounds of a jaw popping during a yawn and droopy eyelids are common fixtures on college campuses, especially during finals season.

However, according to a UP by Jawbone study, students are averaging seven hours of sleep during the week day, which falls in the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended suggestion that students get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Even though the study said that students were averaging enough sleep, it also found that students slept less than seven hours on 46.2 percent of the nights.

Shelley Hershner, director of the Collegiate Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Michigan, said that it’s nearly impossible for college students to have a regular sleep schedule with their irregular expectations to meet during school.

“I would say that most students are sleep deprived in the part that most students have an erratic sleep cycle, and that’s pretty inherent in college,” Hershner said. “So they have a sleep schedule that may be Monday, Wednesday, Friday and a different Tuesday, Thursday sleep schedule and then a Saturday, Sunday schedule.”

However, Hershner said that doing simple things such as avoiding early morning classes, making sure to wind down between studying and sleep and taking cat naps before studying can help students have a more acceptable sleep cycle.

Juggling a busy schedule, Jordan Fountaine, psychology said that he’s lucky to get four to six hours a sleep during the week day.

“I feel like everyone makes the joke ‘I only got three hours of sleep last night,’ and for me, that is a reality,” Fountaine said.

Fountaine said while he understands that sleep is important, he doesn’t budget time in his schedule for a consistent sleep cycle, which is why he uses the weekend to catch up.

“I definitely think it’s possible to catch up on sleep. I plan to do so after graduation, and sometimes, I do during the weekend. I might spend all day in bed falling in and out of sleep or use very little energy,” Fountaine said.

However, Hershner said that catching up on sleep is not as easy as Fountaine may think.

“Can you make up a little bit of sleep, yes. But, can you truly make up for it, no,” Hershner said. “For you to catch up on sleep might take you weeks to months, which is why some people may sleep for 12 hours on weekends and still feel terrible.”

While it is a common mantra in college, Hershner said that the “sleep is for the weak” mentality is not exclusive to college campuses and needs to change.

“People just don’t think sleep is a biological reality. I mean our bodies really do need sleep, and if we don’t, there’s consequences,” Hershner said. “Studies prove that learning is linked to how much we sleep, so this culture of push through sleep, I don’t need to sleep; I’m tougher, better, stronger if I don’t sleep is wrong.”

Tyren Leonard, psychology senior, agrees that less sleep does not make him stronger and strives to get at least seven hours a sleep a day.

“I know that people brag about how much work that they get done when they’re not sleeping,” Leonard said. “When I don’t get enough sleep my attention span suffers and often I find myself dosing off at random times of the day.”