Archive for Monday, September 25, 2006

Students, consider yourselves warned: Studies link poor health with poor sleeping habits

September 25, 2006


Kansas University freshman Harrison Green of Lansing finds it more difficult to roll out of his Oliver Hall bed for an 8 a.m. class two times a week.

Especially because he routinely hits the sack around 1 or 2 in the morning.

"I have more stuff to study, and I guess Mom's not around to tell me to go to bed," he said.

It's a culture shock shared by many college freshmen after they move into a residence hall, where things can go on at all hours of the night.

"I think students may be particularly trapped in an awkward situation," said Michael Twery, acting director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research through the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Health experts have warned for years that Americans may put their health at risk with poor sleep patterns, and researchers published several new studies in the last week that linked poor health with poor sleeping habits, including in young adults.

For college students, some say late nights and irregular sleeping patterns could defeat the real purpose of school.

Rebecca Moore, a Kansas University junior from Fayetteville, Ark., studies late at Watson Library. Moore said that in the last week she had two nights with only four hours of sleep. Moore was studying European history last week at the library and said she would probably go to some bars afterward.

Rebecca Moore, a Kansas University junior from Fayetteville, Ark., studies late at Watson Library. Moore said that in the last week she had two nights with only four hours of sleep. Moore was studying European history last week at the library and said she would probably go to some bars afterward.

"They are going to have less ability to concentrate and to maintain alertness in class," said Maryanne Middleton, clinical coordinator for Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Sleep Center. "They are going to have problems with their studies and being awake."

Students and young adults need seven to nine hours of rest per night, according to published studies. It's also important to go to bed around the same time each night and to wake at the same time each morning.

"Sleep debt is accumulative, so if you make a habit of it, it does continue to get worse and worse," said Dave Dempsey, director of respiratory therapy and the LMH Sleep Center.

Dempsey said some college students may adhere to the idea, "I'll sleep when I'm dead."

"That's not a good philosophy. It just makes you miserable," he said. "If you sleep well and you get a good sleep, your immune system is up, your brain functions better along with all other things to help you stay alive the next day."

Poor sleep habits can have long-term consequences, Middleton said.

"It just develops a pattern, so they have trouble with sleeping the rest of their lives," she said.

Regarding national research, Twery said young adults who regularly sleep less than seven hours per night may have a greater risk of health problems, including weight gain and glucose resistance for diabetes.

Because young adults typically want to stay up later, Twery said it's best to make a schedule to still fit in enough sleep around the same time each night.

It sometimes takes discipline to get a good night's sleep, Middleton said.

"We say make sleep a priority," she said. "You have to make decisions, and some of them have to be smart decisions."

Green, the KU freshman, says he's trying to start getting to bed earlier, but as the semester drags on, he may face more study demands.

"It's coming pretty soon," he said of his first all-nighter.

Good night's rest

Health experts offer a few tips to improve sleeping habits: ¢ Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible. Create a quiet, dark atmosphere. ¢ Drink milk or eat turkey or tuna fish before bed. They are rich in the amino acid L-tryptophan, which can increase brain levels of serotonin and melatonin that aid sleep. ¢ Develop a regular bedtime routine, and try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. ¢ Read a book or do a repetitive or calming activity to avoid distractions that may hold your attention and keep you awake. ¢ Avoid caffeine after lunchtime, and do not take someone else's over-the-counter sleeping pills. Only take sleep medicine with your doctor's permission. Sources: American Institute for Preventive Medicine, National Sleep Foundation.


Kuku_Kansas 11 years, 8 months ago

I used to work the front desk in the res halls, often times the 1-5am shift on weekdays.

Ugh, I think that even six years body is still paying the toll.

justsomewench 11 years, 8 months ago

my sleep debt not only accumulates, it sends guido to collect the daily compounding interest.

i'd hate to do the math on what i owe the kitty by now.

Shelby 11 years, 8 months ago

I've heard that sleeping too much can cause heart problems...can anyone corroborate that?

GuardChica 11 years, 8 months ago

College can't be all work and no play. You'll go crazy.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 8 months ago

A lack of sleep is not because of too much to study. Its the result of lack of priortization. The point of college is to study and become competent in th e knowledge of the world. The point is not to get plastered 3 or 4 days a week. If one is not getting enough sleep, certain things must be cut out to make room for the sleep. Jack Daniel's is a poor study partner and makes for a poor semester. This is fairly easy logic for folks getting proper sleep.

Kuku_Kansas 11 years, 8 months ago


While I did experience my share of fun during my years of college...

...I found myself taking classes during the day, studying/reading/completing assignments during the day, working in the evening (which did at times include early AM shifts)

I did prioritize, which included placing making $$$ before sleep.

Hey, at least I had some money to "get plastered" on weekend evenings!

Confrontation 11 years, 8 months ago

I recall getting a 104% on a sociology test while extrememly hungover. Of course, it wasn't exactly rocket science.

Alison Roberts 11 years, 8 months ago

you cant really just stop studying/finishing homework to go to sleep, it kind of piles up after a yeah, college students are tired. Lets keep hiking tuition so I have to work more, study harder and get less sleep.

Its a vicious cycle, but its not like its going to get any better . Teachers dont care what you do in your other classes, so its not really uncommon to have multiple papers/tests each week.


MyName 11 years, 8 months ago


Believe me, I had the same lack of sleep problem when I was in college (6 hrs a night was a luxury). And it had nothing to do with priortization or having Jack Daniel's as a study partner. It was all about the fact that I had too much studying/school work to do and not enough time to do it in. And on top of that, I had to work 20 hrs a week at a part time job to actually get enough to eat.

I go out to the bars way more now than I ever did in college, and I get a solid 8 hours most every night. But I'm working full time instead of taking all those dang Engineering classes. I'm not saying that there aren't some people who are Bohemian in college, but there are plenty of young people out there who are working their butts off, and only getting 6 hours of sleep a night.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 8 months ago

Hell, sleep deprivation doesn't only happen with students. It happens all the time with adults, too. They forgot to mention, in the suggestions for getting a good night's sleep, to make sure you never have children. Babies are really good at keeping you up half the night.

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