Commentary: Studies Suggest Sleep is Key to Higher GPA

Sleep studies from Sleep Advisor have proven that more than 50% of college students suffer from sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness.

Most college students sleep an average of six to seven hours each night. Sleep Advisor said the recommended amount for a college student is seven to nine hours a night.

“Sleep debt” can be defined as the accumulated amount of sleep loss from sleep deprivation regardless of the cause. “Sleep debt” can cause memory problems, mood regulation issues, poor decision-making, compromised immune systems and weight gain, such as the “freshman 15.”

Studies show sleep loss can hurt academic performance just as much as binge drinking or drug use.

Have you ever procrastinated and then felt forced to pull an all-nighter to study for a huge exam or put together a presentation? Pulling an all-nighter before a big exam has been proven to lower your GPA, not improve it.

“I always felt sluggish and less prepared when I waited until the night before to get everything ready for a test or presentation,” said Jordan Bonnett, a junior at WVSU.

“Good sleep is important for several things,” said James Knepler, MD, associate professor and assistant director of the University of Cincinnati Comprehensive Sleep Center.

“For instance, good sleep can boost your cognition, or thinking skills, and memory, and bad or insufficient sleep can worsen them. Half the reason you’re at college really is to learn, and not getting enough sleep can keep college students from their goals of succeeding in school,” Knepler said,

One in four college students reports sleep loss hurts his or her academic performance. What causes the lack of sleep for so many college students? Stress and irregular sleep patterns are contributing factors to sleep debt in college students. Cell phones also create distractions and prevent students from having uninterrupted sleep.

Some studies have found a college student’s first sense of independence causes their sleep patterns to be unhealthy and irregular.

Below are 10 tips for better sleep from that could help.
1. Avoid caffeine at night, and limit it during the day.
2. Skip alcohol before bed.
3. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it.
4. Don’t sleep in on weekends or days when you have late class; wake up close to the same time every day.
5. Put books and homework away at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
6. Don’t study or work on your computer in bed.
7. Exercise earlier in the day, never just before bed.
8. Don’t watch TV just before bed.
9. Sleep with earplugs and use an eye pillow to drown out bright lights and the noise of loud roommates or dormmates.
10. Turn out the lights when it’s time to go to bed; a bright room will keep you awake.

Try sleeping on a regular eight-hour cycle and see how those extra hours of sleep could help you.

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