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Sleep on It: Why adequate rest is essential for emerging adults



Sleep is Critical
Throughout your life the amount of sleep you require changes, as do many other aspects of your physical and psychological landscape. One thing that remains constant is the fact that you need to get enough sleep. Enough sleep for college students and young adults is about 8 hours per night. The National Institute of Health notes that college students are one of the most sleep deprived segments of the population. This data matters because sleep deprivation has a negative effect on memory, concentration, and students’ ability to learn.  This problem affects a major portion of the population, as 70% of Americans deal with the negative impacts of chronic sleep loss and other sleep disorders and most college students report sleep deprivation and insufficient and irregular sleep, both leading to daytime sleepiness. The results are lower GPAs, academic failures, increased auto accidents, and impaired mood.

Essential for a healthy body and mind, quality sleep is particularly important to college students because it helps reduce stress, helps you to make better judgements, improves mood, increases energy, and supports your ability to learn and retain new information. While you are asleep, your brain builds new pathways that better enable you to learn and contribute to improved memory and the increased ability to have new insights. Additionally, while you sleep, your heart rate slows down giving your over-stressed system time to relax.

Getting Enough
Now that we have established that getting enough sleep is essential to feeling good and functioning well, I am adding some tips for getting more sleep that may help you get more rest.

  • Avoid consuming caffeine after about 4pm.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol 4-6 hours prior to bedtime as it can seriously disrupt your sleep.
  • Turn off computers, tablets, and other technology at least 30 minutes before you intend to sleep. The light from such devices can make our brains think it is daytime, in turn making them less likely to shut down.
  • Do something relaxing before bed. Read a book or have a bath.
  • Exercise! Physical activity improves the likelihood that you will fall asleep and get quality rest.
  • Spend time outdoors. Natural light can help your body stay in touch with natural sleep-wake cycles.
  • Try to develop a schedule for your school work so that you don’t have to pull all-nighters. These are bad for overall health and concentration. Good time management can have a positive impact on every aspect of your university experience.
  • Sleep at night and avoid naps. This will help you stay in touch with your body’s natural rhythm. (Sleeping at the wrong time can contribute to getting out of touch with the body’s natural rhythm.

As always, I hope this information is helpful! Enough sleep can improve the quality of many different aspects of life. College is an exciting time full of rich new experiences. Daytime drowsiness can decrease the ability to fully embrace all that this time has to offer.

Dr. Eileen Wynne

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