Lack of Sleep and How It Affects College Students

Your parents have probably gone on and on about it. Your professors and maybe even your doctor has mentioned it. What is the big deal about getting enough sleep? Sure, you know you feel grumpy and off your game without it, but this is real life as a college student and sometimes a lack of sleep is part of the bargain.

I hate to break it to you, but the effects of little or no sleep can be serious and there are even more things you need to know. Read on.

Effects of no sleep

I’ve done it, we’ve all done it—pulled an all-nighter to prep for a test or for some other reason that seemed smart at the time. But according to an article from USA Today’s college website, “going without sleep leaves you basically drunk, putting you at the equivalent of a .1% blood alcohol content as you drive to work, make decisions and interact with others.”

A significant lack of sleep will mess up your judgment, memory and concentration—so if you were cramming all night, you would have been better off not studying and simply hitting the bed for a solid eight hours. And like being drunk, the article explains, another effect of significant lack of sleep is you aren’t even aware that you are impaired.

Past and current studies

It used to be when researchers went to study a question about sleep, they used a small sample of people for a limited period of time. The advent of all the activity trackers today has changed that. Now they have access to a much wider pool of information. Why? Well among the things you need to know is because we voluntarily give our details to them.

NPR reported how “Jawbone, the maker of a tracker called UP, just released a study of the sleep habits of tens of thousands of students, ages 18-22, on college campuses. The information comes from 100 universities, totaling 1.4 million nights of sleep.”

The good news from the study is that the lack of sleep in college students isn’t as bad as previously thought. But the harder the college, the later the college students attending it stay up. But they aren’t getting less sleep, they are burning the midnight oil. Are there other things you need to know from the study? It revealed that girls go to bed earlier than guys and sleep more overall (but other research has shown that women need more shut-eye than men). Of course, this appears to be good news, until you take into account that the people wearing fitness trackers might be more focused on good health overall than the average college student.

Less shut-eye = Bigger problems

Chronic lack of sleep results in some bigger problems—another thing you need to know. College students may not be in the best place to establish good sleep habits, but the effects of long-term disorders or sleep loss include heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Another issue that arises over time is depression. If all the health problems weren’t enough to scare you into a nap, other effects of too little sleep include premature aging of your skin and weight gain. Now I don’t mean to say that college students are vain, but no one wants to look older than they are!

Are you concerned with how a lack of sleep could be affecting you as a college student? Let us know in the comments.

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