Sleep schedules: To each his own

Zach Wagner | Collegio Reporter

Kris Parker says he can’t rest easy when the day comes to a close.
“I lie in bed for maybe one or two hours before I can finally go to sleep. If I don’t have music to help me doze off, then it’s just that much worse,” said Parker, junior in biology. “I have two early-morning classes that are pretty difficult to stay awake in when I’m running on five to six hours of sleep.”
Harriet A. Bachner, department of psychology and mental health counseling, says that college is a vital time to develop good sleeping habits. However, students are vulnerable to developing poor sleep routines during this time period.
“The recommended amount of sleep for each night is seven to eight hours, which not very many students actually get every day,” Bachner said. “There are many factors that affect a student’s sleep schedule. For many, it’s the first time being out on their own; they’re already trying to balance so many different things that young adults end up losing quite a bit of sleep in college.”

Photo Illustration by Kenzi Jordan

Photo Illustration by Kenzi Jordan

In a short survey, only three of 20 students said they manage to get more than seven hours of sleep each night. Thirteen said they get only five or six hours of sleep each night, and four students said they get fewer than four hours of sleep each night. More than half said they are not satisfied with the amount of sleep they get.
“I probably do a lot more at night than during the day,” said George Xiong, freshman in sociology. “I usually find myself playing video games at night; that’s what keeps me up for the most part. I probably get about six hours of sleep a night.”
Bachner says that students’ use of video games is a big factor contributing to insufficient amounts of sleep.
“Students too often will have bad sleep hygiene in that they will possibly watch some sort of violent movie or play some violent video game which stimulates parts of the brain that shouldn’t be activated before sleep,” Bachner said. “The brain takes roughly three to four hours a night to integrate new information. This enhances the ability to have stronger memories. When other parts are stimulated it affects this integration process in a harmful way.”
Jamie McDaniel, assistant professor in English, says he catches students falling asleep in class on a daily basis.
“It’s definitely an issue with students in my technical writing classes,” McDaniel said. “My main concern is that students aren’t able to retain information when they’re exhausted in class.”
McDaniel says even though students staying up late and losing sleep is an issue, he has found his own unique sleeping schedule.
“I think it’s different for everyone, really. When it comes down to sleeping routines, I’ve found that I work better late at night,” McDaniel said. “There are some nights when I won’t get to bed until four in the morning, and I’ll have to teach a class at nine. I really don’t have any problem with that system.”
Schontae Cobb says she has a similar routine for her sleep cycle.
“I’m usually up all night listening to music or watching TV. What sleep I do miss at night, I make up for with small naps during the day,” said Cobb, freshman in construction management. “If I don’t get my naps, though, I’m usually in a real grumpy mood during class, if I’m even awake.”
Bachner says she tells her students that modeling a mentally healthy person is essential to leading a better life, which includes getting a sufficient amount of sleep every night.
“I frequently remind my students that taking basic measures to balance out their time will greatly benefit them in the future,” Bachner said. “The amount of sleep you get each night is often overlooked, but it is one of the biggest contributors to overall well-being.”  

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