College Students who don’t Sleep Jeopardize Academic Success
College students can suffer from poor physical habits which can, in turn, lead to poor performance academically. When many college students like me suffer from poor sleeping habits, we negatively affect our cognitive and physical abilities leading us to perform poorly in school.
Sleeping habits are a problem that affects countless amounts of college students. By sleeping at the same time every day, your body develops a schedule that is called the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm functions like an internal clock that tells you when you should sleep and wake up. By not following the circadian rhythm your body is thrown off its cycle and can’t perform at its peak potential. This is a bad habit that I need to break in order to improve my ability to focus during class time. On the weekdays I usually try to sleep at midnight so I can wake up in time for school. During the weekends I usually stay up to around 3 a.m. on my phone which throws off my circadian rhythm. Doing this can harm my ability to focus and retain information when learning. Instead, I need to rework my sleeping schedule so that I sleep at the same time no matter the day. This should help my overall performance in school and can better my everyday life. Sleep is a crucial part of life that can be easily overlooked, but getting into the habit of sleeping at the same time without any distractions can boost a person’s ability to perform in college.
Because I suffer from following a consistent sleeping schedule, I decided to do some research on why it is important to sleep at the same time regularly. Many students struggle to develop or follow a sleep schedule that is consistent throughout the week. Sleeping around the same time every day is important because your body develops a circadian rhythm that can boost cognitive and physical abilities. Dr. Prichard, the researcher of a New York Times article called “An Underappreciated Key to College Success: Sleep”, said “I’ve yet to meet a parent whose teenage child, especially if male, doesn’t sleep until 11 a.m. or later on weekends, throwing their circadian clock out of whack in a perpetual struggle to make up for a serious midweek sleep debt. It’s as if they travel across three or more time zones every weekend, then spend Monday through Friday recovering from performance-robbing jet lag.” This shows how important it is to have a consistent sleeping schedule. Even on the weekends, you should be sleeping at the same time so your body doesn’t have to constantly adjust. This quote spoke to me because I do the exact same thing every week and I didn’t know the negative effects it can have on your body. Another thing Dr. Prichard says in her article is “In the process, they knock out of whack one in 20 genes governed by a circadian rhythm. The substances produced by those genes are not released at the right times and the body fails to perform at its best.” This can lead to feelings like reduced concentration, slower thinking, and mood swings. By mistiming sleep, your body can struggle to adapt and one’s ability to perform in school can plummet or even lead them to failure.
After I realized how important it is to sleep at the same time every day I decided on making a new sleep schedule to see how I feel after a few weeks. Doing this will hopefully allow my body to function at its peak potential. Following a sleep schedule that eliminates distractions forces me to put away all electronics thirty minutes before bed so my eyes have a chance to rest. Not putting away electronics before bed can disrupt the natural production of a hormone called melatonin which causes you to feel sleepy. I think this will allow my body to naturally feel tired rather than me going on my phone until I feel tired or fall asleep. When using my phone it usually takes me an hour or two to feel sleepy, but turning it off completely will hopefully make me sleep faster. Another thing I am going to do before bed is to dim the lights a couple of hours beforehand. Creating a darker environment also helps with the production of melatonin and can lead to feeling drowsy. I think this will allow my body and my eyes to relax before bed causing me to fall asleep faster. Following a sleeping schedule is important for me because I usually sleep really late on the weekends causing my body to slowly adjust back on the weekdays. This is not ideal because my body is constantly adjusting back and forth every week, causing me to always feel tired.
Fortunately, after two weeks my attempts to improve my sleep schedule went pretty well. I had the chance to discuss the issues I was having with my peers. It was nice to talk to peers with similar problems I was having like not getting enough sleep. Since I knew we were all trying to fix a problem we each had it motivated me to push through even though there were times when I wanted to give up and sleep late. Forcing myself to turn off all electronics thirty minutes before bed also helped. It gave my eyes and mind a chance to rest, allowing my body to produce more melatonin getting me ready for bed. Another thing that really helped me was dimming the lights a few hours before going to sleep. It made me feel more drowsy, which forced me to fall asleep faster instead of going on my phone for hours.
After experiencing a healthy sleep schedule it made me feel more energetic and productive. I was able to focus better when sitting in class or doing assignments. I felt like I was able to retain more information which helped me when doing quizzes. Overall, I am happy with the outcome of the two-week test and will remain following a consistent sleeping schedule in the future.