Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Sleep Starved Students Suffer Setbacks

Sleep Starved Students

Many students cite sleep difficulties as a major factor impairing their academic performance.

A recent poll conducted for CBC News concluded that six out of ten Canadians aren’t getting enough sleep. Among students, that number is likely far higher. For many students, getting a solid eight hours may not seem like an option. In addition to the academic rigors of reading, reports, essays, and studying hard for midterms and finals, many students juggle part-time work, volunteering, family commitments and a social life. Additionally, the pressures piled on students often cause anxiety and stress that can result in insomnia.

Researchers are finding that maintaining a sleep-starved lifestyle should be worrying for students. According to a study by the Harvard Medicine School, lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment, and perception of events.

Bad sleep habits will cause serious sleeping problems

The National College Health Assessment found that 20% of students cite sleep difficulties as a major factor impairing their academic performance. The evidence suggests they are correct; not getting a good night’s sleep can have a significant negative impact on memory, and the ability to retain information before and after resting.

The Harvard also report concludes that:

“Although there are some open questions about the specific role of sleep in forming and storing memories, the general consensus is that consolidated sleep throughout a whole night is optimal for learning and memory.”

Strategies for getting a good six to eight hours of rest each night invariably include getting more exercise, especially in the evenings, and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine before bed. Setting a routine for getting to bed at a decent hour–and sticking to it–can also train your body and mind to settle into a regular sleep rhythm.

Also Keep digital distractions away from your sleeping space, or turned off, in order to maximize your rest periods and avoid late-night interruptions. Eating healthy and managing time and schedules efficiently so as to avoid unnecessary stress can also aid in getting much-needed sleep.

Consistently getting a good night’s rest is a key component of preventing student burnout.

Most professors would prefer their students to be alert and well-rested, rather than drooling onto their laptops after burning the candle at both ends.

Tim Burkhart
Author: Tim Burkhart
Tim Burkhart has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia and is currently a part-time student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, taking communications and design courses.
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