For college students, it is often difficult to get a good night’s rest; with assignments, extracurricular activities and other time consuming commitments, some students often opt to forgo an extra hour of sleep to ensure that they meet a deadline. Though one’s dedication to work should be commended, it should also be remembered that sleep is vital for one’s well-being.According to the National Institute of Health, a good night’s rest helps improve learning and problem solving skills in addition to enhancing one’s productivity, all of which are important in the competitive college environment.

According to a study conducted by Jawbone, the company behind a popular brand of fitness monitor, college students receive an average of 7.38 hours of sleep a weeknight. This number, however, varies by gender; women receive an average of 23 more minutes of sleep per night than male students. While the reason for this gender disparity is unknown, there is scientific evidence to support the practice of women getting more sleep. According to a March 10, 2008 EurekAlert! report, researchers at Duke University studied middle-aged men and women and found that women who are sleep deprived are more likely to suffer the effects of heart disease than men. In addition to heart disease, sleep deficiency is linked to kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

Though sleep deprivation may be common across college campuses, it has been shown that there is an inverse correlation between a school’s rigor and the amount of sleep its students get. In the same study from Jawbone, Columbia University had the latest average bedtime — 1:30 a.m. — while the University of Nevada had the earliest bedtime — close to midnight. According to a study led by Adam Knowlden of the University of Cincinnati, the most common reasons that students attribute to their lack of sleep are time, stress and finances. Though it is valid that some students lose sleep due to their demanding work schedule, it is recommended that they try to make the time to get the eight hours of sleep required for their age group. Self-care is something so often forgotten, yet so vital. Students often neglect their well-being in order to finish work and engage in the competitive culture that exists on college campuses, though the long-term effects are only counterproductive. An article in the Journal of American College Health titled “Sleep Habits and Patterns of College Students: A Preliminary Study” revealed that academic performance is linked to sleep. The article states that “sleep deprived students performed significantly worse than students who had a normal night’s sleep.” However, when the students studied were asked about their performance, they inaccurately stated that they performed better.

College culture perpetuates this glamorization of sleep deprivation; students falsely think that avoiding sleep and studying makes them more prepared. This problematic ideal encourages students to harm themselves in an attempt to get ahead. The way to combat this is to educate students on the importance of sleep or provide them with the resources to do so themselves. Getting a good night’s rest is not a difficult thing to do; it is just a matter of getting into a routine and not over-committing. The National Institute of Health advises individuals who suffer from sleep deprivation to create and maintain a sleep schedule to follow on weeknights and weekends, as well as setting aside an hour before bed to relax in a quiet, cool and dark environment. Though naps are beneficial in improving short-term performance and alertness, they are no substitute for actual sleep. In fact, it is suggested that adults aged 18 and above avoid naps longer than 20 minutes.

I understand that a task as simple as getting more sleep is something difficult for many students, myself included. I am known to jokingly boast about the 30 minutes of sleep that I received before class, and while I say this in jest, it does not excuse the fact that I am only ruining my chances of functioning properly throughout the day. That last show on Netflix or another 100 words added to an essay are not worth dozing off in an early-morning class or possibly oversleeping — something that I am also guilty of. Regardless of the reason, this self-imposed sleep deprivation needs to end if students wish to better themselves and their quality of living.