Student sleep debt

Our Editor-in-Chief sleeps like this every night /Image: Arthur Ward

Our Editor-in-Chief sleeps like this every night /Image: Arthur Ward

Students just aren’t getting enough sleep

Article: Kailey Guillemin – Contributor

We’ve all seen it, or maybe you’ve done it yourself. Students crouched in chairs, lying on couches, or simply lying on their desks and covering their heads with jackets. If you’re averaging only a couple hours of sleep a day you may be doing a good amount of damage to yourself.

To be fully rejuvenated and ready for the next day, the average person should, typically, get seven and a half to eight and a half hours of sleep a night.

University students on Facebook were asked to share their average amount of sleep they get in a night. After 16 responses, the average was five and a half hours of sleep per night. The lowest was four hours. Up to eight hours of sleep on an average night was the highest.

Dr. Nicholas Carleton, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Regina, explains that a full sleep cycle is approximately 90 minutes long. In that, about 45 minutes is spent getting into your REM sleep. The other 45 minutes is spent getting out of the REM sleep and going back into it again creating the 90-minute cycle.

Once you start cutting back on the amount of time spent for sleep, the fewer REM cycles you will be able to have. Once this happens, “you wake up feeling more fatigued, you’ll have more difficulty with memory and concentration,” Dr. Carleton explains. Difficulties retaining new and old information are other effects. This accumulates until you have caught up on your sleep.

[pullquote]“It’s better to get a full night sleep with less study time, but better quality time”[/pullquote]

The effects from lack of sleep are not only cognitive. Physical effects like difficulties waking up in the morning, moving slowly, and feeling agitated also come with not enough sleep.

Dr. Carleton says, “You can watch an A student fall to a B or a C relatively quickly because of sleep depravation”.

Because of all the demands students have, they are more likely to suffer from what is known as sleep debt.

When asked about their sleeping habits, Matthew Maertens, a U of R student, says “four if [I] am lucky” on his average night of sleep during school. This was a similar response from other people like Justine Kwochka, who is lucky if she can get four to five a night.

Aeliesha Brooks, a fourth year psychology honours student, says, “I absolutely do not get enough sleep, but there’s nothing I can really do about it since I have so much to do.”

Brooks talks about her day when she doesn’t get much sleep.

“It doesn’t take long before you’re absolutely drained,” she says.

Overall, she’s really affected by little sleep; she’s groggy and has a hard time focusing in lectures.

It’s hard for students to make time for things like exercise, spending some time outside and having enough time for a good night’s sleep with their demanding schedules.

But, as Dr. Carleton tells his students, “It’s better to get a full night’s sleep with less study time, but better quality time”.

So, the next time you drag yourself out of bed and crawl towards that cup of coffee, instead go for a run, get some sun and a good night’s rest.

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