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College Students: Why Skipping Some Zs Doesn’t Pay Off

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Continuing your education is a great way to get ahead in your career. However, balancing work and more schooling can be tricky and the all too common sacrifice is sleep. If you want the most out of your education while still achieving in the workplace you’re better served by making sleep a priority, not an afterthought.

When you go to sleep your brain recharges, your cells repair themselves (keeping you looking fresh and young) and your body releases important hormones. The amount of sleep your body needs depends on your age, but adults 19 to 55 years of age need around eight hours of sleep, according to The Better Sleep Council.

A survey conducted by the American Cancer Society found that people who sleep six hours or less per night or who sleep nine hours or more had a death rate 30 percent higher than those who regularly slept seven to eight hours.Click To Tweet

So why is it then that college students are doing away with sleep in order to cram in study sessions and countless trips to the library? Students studying at colleges like Stanford, USC, or NYU might find themselves tempted to stay up longer than they should to transcribe notes or study, but that might not help. You should incorporate sleep into part of your study habits because the information you learn only sinks in after sleep.

Researches from UCLA’s Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior found that students who lost sleep every night comprehended less during class and did worse on tests, according to their report published online in the journal Child Development.

Researchers gave 535 teenagers checklists to keep track of their sleep and study time for three 14-day periods while in ninth, 10th, and 12th grades. After the study was completed, researchers found that regardless of the amount of time students normally spend on homework each day, students who give up sleep for extra study time will have more trouble the next day understanding class material and will be more likely to struggle with an assignment or test.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

If your roommate or classmate is extra grouchy, it might be because they didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Possible symptoms of lack of sleep are:

  • Moodiness
  • Higher susceptibility to illness
  • Lack of energy
  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty retaining new information
  • Premature aging
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired judgment

Sleep Can Turn Your Dreams Into Big Bucks

Stephenie Meyer, the author of the “Twilight” franchise, said the book idea came to her in a dream in 2003. She said on her website StephenieMeyer.com, “I woke up from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the fact that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.”

Don’t Skip the Z’s: Tips to Sleep Better

A survey conducted by the American Cancer Society found that people who sleep six hours or less per night or who sleep nine hours or more had a death rate 30 percent higher than those who regularly slept seven to eight hours. Bottom line: If you want to do well on your next test, don’t down energy drink after energy drink cramming for a test with an all-nighter. Instead, get a restful night’s sleep of eight hours.

Here are a few simple tactics to help increase the quality of your sleep:

    • Get on a schedule: go to sleep around the same time every night to help your body get used to a regular sleep schedule.
    • Don’t use your bed as a study space: doing any stress-related activity in your bed will trick your body into thinking it is not a place meant for sleep. Instead, use the library or community space.
    • Don’t drink alcohol or eat anything right before bed, it will keep you up.
    • Avoid watching the clock! Keeping an eye on your alarm clock, counting the hours of sleep you will get will often times stress you out, making it that much more difficult to sleep. Consider turning your clock away from view. All that matters is that you can still hear your alarm go off in the morning.
    • If you find it difficult to fall asleep, consider using a noise machine that produces soothing sounds.
    • Do not exercise right before bed, your adrenaline will be peaked, making it hard to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.
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