According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, research is increasingly showing that more and more students are not getting enough sleep. This research also shows there is a correlation between a lack of adequate sleep and poor academic performance. When a student is rested, memory recall, decision making, critical thinking, and the ability to maintain concentration are much improved. Conversely, any prolonged sleep deprivation will affect their mood, energy level, and ability to focus, concentrate, and learn – thus directly affecting their academic performance. Aside from stress – which can contribute to sleep deprivation – researchers state sleep deprivation is one of the main reasons college students receive low academic scores.
While getting the right amount of sleep is important, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out the quality of sleep a person gets is what makes the biggest impact on their performance. Although a student may lie down in bed for 7-8 hours, if they are unable to sleep through that time in bed it’s not quality, efficient sleep. Adequate sleep is essential to feeling awake and alert, maintaining good health, and working at peak performance.
There are several ways college students can improve their sleep, according to Southern New Hampshire University:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep around the same time every night. A study published in “Scientific Reports” showed a positive correlation between having a regular sleep schedule and academic performance.
- Be aware of your daily routines. Exercise and keep yourself moving throughout the day, even if it’s just a brisk walk to class. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night. The CDC also suggests limiting caffeine intake in the afternoon and evenings.
- Create a healthy sleeping environment. It’s important for the space where you sleep to be uncluttered and comfortable. Use your bed for sleeping, not studying. Also give your brain time to relax before heading to bed, as well as keeping the room dark and at a cool temperature.
- Unplug before bed. Light from phones, computers, and television can affect how your body perceives night and day and make it more difficult for your body to recognize it’s time to rest. Put away or turn off these devices 30 minutes before you try to sleep.
- Quality over quantity. Making sure your body is getting the rest it needs is not just about the hours of sleep you get a night.
Though it may be easy to think college students can function with less sleep because “they’re young”, research and data clearly show the exact opposite. While you may not want to splurge on a mattress that will last well into adulthood, there is a benefit to investing in a mattress that will provide adequate, efficient, quality sleep for at least 4-5 years. With proper sleep, turn those Zzzz’s into A’s!