As students, we are not immune to the all-nighters or the late night ‘Timmies’ runs to grab a coffee (or two) to fuel our brains. There may be a shared sense of community in knowing that your friends have also stayed up until 5am to finish that essay. It’s not uncommon to find a student working away during the witching hours at Mills, Hamilton Hall or the upper floors of the Student Centre. University encompasses an abundance of academic and social opportunities. These can be an exciting new chapter, but this milestone does not come without its challenges. One particular obstacle impacting student life is insufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation could also have long lasting impacts on student life and health that may not be immediately apparent. A decreased amount and quality of sleep is known to disturb mental health, academic performance, and social activity. Typically, the more sleep students get, the more motivation they have for finishing schoolwork, paying attention in class and attending extracurricular activities. Your procrastinating and all-nighters can actually be counterproductive to your academic success, especially when this fatigue impedes your learning the subsequent day and more time than usual is needed to complete your assignments.
Poorer sleepers have been shown to find it more difficult to function during the day and experience greater tension and signs of depression than those who receive greater hours of sleep. Studies have also shown that people who slept fewer than six hours per night on a regular basis were more likely to have excess body weight than those who slept an average of eight hours per night. Sleep also plays an important role in immune function as insufficient sleep is linked to chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. A good night’s rest, on the other hand, can help boost your productivity and cell restorative function. Although sleep is the first sacrifice during times of high stress, maybe it’s time to reframe that picture. It’s time to think about putting your health first!
It may be time to reflect on how much sleep you’re getting and how this may be impacting you. According to the 2016 National College Health Assessment Survey, 63% of students surveyed said sleep difficulties have been very difficult to handle and that within the past 7 days, 37% of students did not feel rested at all. If you are experiencing problems staying awake, falling asleep at night, or just having poor sleep habits in general, you are certainly not alone.
So you’ve identified that you may have some issues falling asleep or getting enough sleep, and would like some advice on how to improve your sleeping patterns. Research cannot dictate the exact number of hours you’ll need for optimal functioning, but there are warning signs of insufficient quality sleep, such as sleepiness while driving, depending on caffeine to stay awake, and sleep problems, such as abnormal sleep behaviour, insomnia, or excessive sleepiness.