Students often don’t grasp the reality that they need that much time to study, so they don’t plan for it.
Lying awake at night is not just inconvenient. Sleep deprivation is a significant public health issue, with serious consequences. Lack of sleep is linked to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, reduced learning and memory ability, impaired judgment and dangerous driving. One-third of us suffer from sleep deprivation, and research shows that for college students that number — and the stakes — are even higher.
Dr. Adam Knowlden, professor of health science at The University of Alabama, recently surveyed college students about their sleep behaviors and found that as many as 60 percent are sleep-deprived, compared to 33 percent of the general population.
Why? It is not all about staying up all night partying and hanging out with friends, Knowlden’s research shows.
“The bigger issues are unrealistic expectations and poor time-management skills,” he says.
“College students have a lot of studying to do, and most of them don’t realize how much time that takes,” he says. “A common formula is that students should set aside six to nine hours a week to study for a typical three-hour course. That translates to 30 to 45 hours for a typical course load, not including the time spent in class. Add it all up, and you are at or well over the number of hours in a work week for most adults.”
Students often don’t grasp the reality that they need that much time to study, so they don’t plan for it. Instead, they pack their schedules with social and extracurricular activities and hours working at a job.
As a result, they find themselves backlogged with schoolwork, scrambling to find a few more hours to study for an exam or to write a paper that’s coming due.
The “logical solution” they choose? Stay up and keep working — even though the quality of that study time is declining quickly and stress and anxiety are mounting just as fast. In fact, going to sleep at such a time can seem like an irresponsible choice, rather than a wise one.
But it’s important to dispel the myth for students that in order to get ahead in life they must be sleep-deprived. The opposite is true: you get more done in a day if you get a good eight hours of sleep at night.
Sleep helps students to consolidate memory, make sense of the information to which they have been exposed, and retain what’s important. Without sufficient sleep, students can’t focus, learn or remember.