College is a time of learning, new experiences and challenges, making new friends, and preparing one’s self for the rest of their lives (no pressure, right?). Something that isn’t likely to be on the priority list is good sleep. It’s expected and even glorified how little sleep you’ll get from the all-nighters you have to pull to cram for tomorrow’s test or to attend the big campus party that everyone is going to.
Studies show that as few as 11% of college students say they sleep well with the average amount of sleep only being 7 hours. Even though 7 hours might not seem so bad, if you look at the same data a different way it shows that almost half of the students slept less than 7 hours. This falls below the guidelines set for young adults by the National Sleep Foundation who say young adults should receive between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Other studies show that forgoing a couple of hours of sleep for extra studying may be a waste of time. These studies showed that not only does lack of sleep prevent the brain from consolidating factual information and recalling procedural (how-to) memories, but it also suggests the most important critical period of sleep for memory is immediately after studying or learning. Even if the student loses sleep to study but tries to make up for the sleep later the brain still does not have the ability to retain or remember the information gathered during the late-night study session.
Even if a student adheres to better study habits, there are plenty of other factors that could effect their sleep that seems to be out of their control when living in a dorm, usually while sharing the room with at least one other person. Ways to battle this could be noise-canceling headphones, an eye pillow, or a fan (for white noise and to keep the room cool). Also, you could be inheriting the last tenant’s dust bunnies — allergies and dust mites can greatly effect your quality of sleep. Thoroughly clean the room, especially under the bed, and be sure to use a quality mattress protector to provide an allergy barrier. And last, but not definitely not least, make sure your actual mattress and pillow are comfortable so you don’t lose even more sleep from tossing and turning.