Sacrificing sleep for school: the life of a college student

“There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”

This is an opinion that is shared by many students here at Marist. Between classes, jobs, clubs, and other extra-curricular activities, the concept of free time is not a familiar one to college students.

Students make sacrifices in order to get their work done. But sometimes, the sacrifices made may do more harm than good, and a good night’s sleep proves as an example of such sacrifice.

“Yeah, I would say sleep is pretty low on my priority list,” Marist senior Dave Centopanti said. “With classes and everything, I usually don’t have a lot of time during the day [to get work done]. So I end up staying up pretty late.”

Centopanti, a Media Studies and Production major, also works as commissioner for the intramural badminton league and plays on the club ultimate Frisbee team. He says that his sleep schedule has changed dramatically since his freshmen year as he has taken on more activities and responsibilities.

He says that he typically averages five hours of sleep during the week, staying up as late as 3:00 a.m., only to wake up for his 8:00 a.m. class. After he completes his day, Centopanti does not start his homework until close to 11:00 p.m.

“There are some days where all I want to do is sleep, but you have to just keep going. I sometimes watch an episode of whatever T.V. show I’m in to at the time for a break. That might be a reason why I’m up so late,” Centopanti said jokingly.

According to a recent study by the University of Arizona, a college student averages about six and half hours of sleep per night, although the study notes that most students over-report in similar studies in order to make their sleep habits “more normal.”

That average is nearly two hours less than the recommended number of hours of sleep (eight). That number comes from the Psychology of Sleep class offered at Marist. The course studies sleep length, deprivation, and dreaming.

Students who take the course have learned a lot about just how unhealthy sacrificing sleep in order to get work done can be. Senior Mike Kryger said he has made it a priority to get the recommended hours of sleep since he began taking the class.

“I don’t always get the full eight [hours], Kryger, an International Business major, said. “But I’ve definitely become more aware of getting to bed at a reasonable hour. The results speak for themselves; I feel better on the days when I sleep well the night before.”

Kryger explained that on the first day of class, the professor asked each student to give their averages of how many hours they slept a night during the week. The number of hours were “pretty low,” according to Kryger.

Since then, the class has learned about the dangers of sleep deprivation, from weight loss to depression. Sometimes, students are instructed to bring in their own pillows to class to participate in napping exercises designed to help students study their own sleeping habits.

Technology has made it easier for students to study their sleeping habits as well. A new cell phone app called Sleep Cycle allows people to monitor their movements and sleeping patterns.

Using sensors, the Sleep Cycle app determines which sleep phase a person finds themselves in: awake, sleep, or deep sleep. A person simply has to open the app on their cell phone, place the phone underneath the sheets, and set an alarm for a wake-up. As the person sleeps, the app collects data such as amount of time spent in bed, sleep quality, and specific hours the person was in a specific sleep mode.

The app allows people to see how healthy, or unhealthy, their sleeping habits are, and if they don’t like what they see, they can make the necessary adjustments to ensure a good night’s sleep.

“I think it’s really smart,” senior Jeff Woronick said of Sleep Cycle. “I think it’s really cool to see what you’re like when you’re asleep, in terms of how deep of a sleep you’re in and how much sleep you need to properly function.”

Woronick used Sleep Cycle for entire week, and the results showed just how much sleep needed to have. The app determined that Woronick spent just five hours in bed, and the majority of it was spent in just the regular sleep phase.

As a result, he managed his time more effectively, choosing to go to bed earlier and doing work earlier in the morning, rather than staying up later and being ineffective with his work.

“Time management is what it really comes down to; you can’t do work late at night if you don’t get a good night’s sleep the night before,” Woronick said.

A good night’s sleep typically leads to success the next day and beyond. College students are placed in positions every day to succeed, but sometimes priorities get in the way. If the priority list has sleep at the top, they will no doubt lead healthier and happier lives.

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