While some people find dark eye circles from successive nights of pulling all-nighters to finish up work a kind of trophy to distinguish themselves from the other “mediocre” peers, they may actually be a warning sign to you to say that not only are you causing yourself misguided agony, but that your performance may even be worse than these so-called “mediocre” peers who knock off early and head to bed on time.
You may or may not know this, but when it comes to having a successful time in your university years, your sleep patterns, how long and how well you snooze, is actually a very important factor. It is not just the sleep you catch up on over the weekends that matters, but every day all through Monday to Sunday.
Not Just How Much But Also How Well You Sleep
It has been shown through studies that both sleep quality and quantity equal, or even outrank, well-established concerns on campus such as drug and alcohol consumption in predicting or assessing a student’s health, performance in academics and graduating chances.
Yet, in one survey, two-thirds of students felt that more information on managing sleep problems was not sufficiently available and expressed that they wanted information from their universities. Only a few institutions of higher academics actually actively do anything to address sleep deprivation‘s negative effects on academic success and overall health.
In fact, some schools inadvertently do the contrary by, for example, having 24-hour access to libraries that encourage students to burn the midnight oil. Having an all-nighter may be helpful when all you need to do is to memorise a list, but when it comes to performing complex tasks with the information, you will actually do more harm than good by staying up all night.
After staying awake for sixteen hours, brain performance starts to decline, and you will go on to perform as though you were legally drunk at the twenty-hour mark. This is why sleep deprivation has led to so many road accidents.
Many university students begin their campus journey with awful sleep patterns and habits that get worse when the stringent and rigorous demands of school and other lifestyle needs such as social and athletic activities compete with each other for their time.
Sometimes, the problem can be so severe it is as if they hop across more than three time zones in a single weekend and then spend the weekdays recovering from jet lag.
Throughout the process, they send one in twenty genes governed by the body’s circadian rhythm haywire, causing substances that are normally produced by those genes to not be released on time, leading to the body’s failure to perform at its optimum with both mental and physical abilities suffering as a result. In a study by Stanford University, male university basketball players achieved a significant increase in their scoring percentages when they got optimal amounts of sleep.
Stay Up to Study? You’re Better Off Asleep
According to US national study of more than 55,000 university students, undergrads who did not possess wholesome sleep habits are more likely than their well-rested peers to find themselves unable to cope with the study load of their chosen course and are less likely to reach their potential. For each additional day of bad sleep quantity and quality, the probability of dropping a course increased by ten per cent and GPAs fell by 0.02 points; this is even when most factors that were known to affect academic success were already accounted for.
Experts say that the sleep patterns of university students are a public health crisis that higher learning institutes are not paying enough attention to. Out of twenty-six risks to overall well-being that universities generally consider as important to educate students about, sleep ranks all the way at the bottom as second-last, just one rank higher than Internet addiction.
It was surprising to some researchers when they discover that feeling stressed was the students’ main culprit for poor sleep, and alcohol and caffeine consumption were not the significant predictors of poor sleep quality as some had thought. The findings were based on a study of 1,125 university students published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2010. Many students suffer from depression, anxiety and attention disorders, which can be symptoms of, or at least their effects worsened by, sleep deprivation.
Practise Good Sleep Hygiene
Also very important besides having adequate quality sleep is practising good “sleep hygiene” – a set of behavioural measures to help assure a full and good night’s sleep.
- Sleep and wake up daily at approximately the same time
- Create a comfortable bedroom setting and regular bedtime practices
- Avoid caffeine and stimulants before bedtime
- Avoid burning the midnight oil to mug or finish homework
- Keep electronics outside the bedroom do not use them before sleep
- Do not go to bed on an empty stomach but avoid eating too much prior
- Avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime
- Do some calming activity like reading or listening to music
- Keep the bedroom quiet, dark and cool for sleeping