As a college student, it is vitally important to make sleep a priority. Sound impossible? Over half of Penn State students reported that they felt tired, dragged out, or sleepy during the day at least three or more days a week.*
Busy schedules, all-nighters, and too much caffeine can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. Not getting enough sleep can lead to bigger problems like weight gain, the inability to pay attention in class, and memory trouble. Poor sleep quality and quantity affect your mood, motivation, judgment, and perception of events.
As an adult, you should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Learn how you can maximize your snooze time by scheduling a one-on-one session with a peer educator, or invite a peer educator to your next student club, organization, or residence floor meeting to provide an interactive sleep workshop.
Free sleep kits are available to all students. Stop by the Health Promotion and Wellness suite in 20 Intramural Building to pick one up today.
You're not you when you're tired
Learn more about the importance of adequate sleep and the effects it has on vital cognitive and physical functions.
- Focus and Attention
Sleep helps you pay attention, stay focused, and improve brain function.
Sleeping 7 to 9 hours every night ensures that you will have optimal brain function when it comes to concentration and focus. Inadequate sleep quantity causes microsleeps (lapses in attention). Experiencing 10 days of six hours of sleep a night is the equivalent of going without sleep for twenty four hours straight. Chronic sleep deprivation also means that you are less likely to recognize your impaired performance, lower alertness and reduced energy level.
- Diet and Metabolism
7-9 hours of sleep helps regulate your metabolism.
During sleep, the body secretes hormones that help regulate appetite, energy metabolism, and glucose processing. Getting too little sleep affects the balance of your hormones. Poor sleep is associated with increases in insulin, a risk factor for diabetes.
- Memory and Learning
Sleep helps you learn and remember new information.
Sleep plays a vital role in the consolidation of memory which is essential for learning new information. Sleep is important before and after learning. Sleeping before studying refreshes your brain and makes it easier to form new memories. Sleeping after studying helps you retain new information.
- Immune System
Sleep is essential to a strong immune system.
Sleep is a key ingredient to recovery from the flu, common cold and other illnesses. Both sleep quality and quantity have a direct relationship to the strength of your immune system. Researchers have found a link between sleep and cancer-fighting immune cells. A number of studies have shown that nighttime shiftwork and the disruption it causes to circadian rhythms and sleep increases an individual’s chances of developing multiple forms of cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, cancer of the uterus wall, and colon cancer.
Source: Walker, Matthew P. Why We Sleep unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017. Print.
- Anxiety and Depression
New research indicates that sleep deprivation can cause anxiety and anxiety can also cause sleep problems.
Excessive sleepiness has a big impact on your mental health. Individuals who suffer from insomnia are 10 times more likely to have clinical depression and 17 times more likely to have clinical anxiety. Research also shows altered sleep patterns are common in many mental health issues.
Source: Anxiety and Depression Association of America; National Sleep Foundation
Sleep can help you regulate emotions, reduce irritability and stabilize your mood.
A full night of sleep helps bring balance to the two areas of the brain that control emotion (amygdala and prefrontal cortex). Even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on your mood. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that subjects who had 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed a normal sleep pattern, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.
Dinges, D. et al., Cumulative Sleepiness, Mood Disturbance, and Psychomotor Vigilance Decrements During a Week of Sleep Restricted to 4 – 5 Hours Per Night, Sleep. 1997 Apr; 20 (4): 267–277.
- Reproductive System
Men with poor sleep quantity and quality have lower levels of testosterone than men who are fully rested.
The impact of poor sleep quality on testosterone is so large that it essentially ages a man by ten to 15 years in terms of virility. Men who report sleeping poorly or sleeping too little have a 29% lower sperm count and a higher rate of deformed sperm than men who sleep a full and restful night. For women, routinely sleeping less than 6 hours a night causes a 20% decline in hormone that is necessary for conception.
Source: Walker, M. Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Simon & Schuster, NY. 2017
- Reaction Time
Sleep deprivation slows down your reaction time and decreases the accuracy of your responses.
You are three times as likely to have a car accident on 5 or fewer hours of sleep versus 8 hours. The risk of having an accident when driving after only 4-5 hours of sleep is similar to driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) equal to or slightly over 0.08 (the legal limit for DUI). The risk of crashing with having less than 4 hours of sleep is comparable to a BAC between 0.12-0.15 (significant impaired coordination and judgement, blurred vision, high risk of injury to self).
Source: Foundation for Traffic Safety.“Acute Sleep Deprivation and Risk of Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement,” accessed at http://aaafoundation.org/acute-sleep-deprivation-risk-motor-vehicle-crash-involvement/