It’s 8:30 in the morning, you’re sitting in your anatomy lecture class when all of a sudden you feel your eyes start to shut and your head becomes heavy. You notice yourself drift in and out of consciousness while getting bits and pieces of information on the renal system that you should have been paying attention to the whole time. Has this ever happened to you? Well, congratulations! You’re a college student with daytime sleepiness due to the lack of sleep you got the night before from the homework/YouTube binging you were trying to push through. Daytime is a major problem, exhibited by 50% of college students compared to the 36% of adolescents and adults.

     Now, let’s talk about the cause of the daytime sleepiness most college students suffer from. Sleep deprivation! What is sleep deprivation you may ask. Well, sleep deprivation is defined as obtaining inadequate sleep to support adequate daytime alertness. Sleep deprivation is often termed either acute sleep deprivation or chronic partial sleep deprivation. Colloquially for students, acute sleep deprivation is termed “pulling an all-nighter”, meaning that a person stays up for 24 hours or longer. Now I know it may sound like the right idea at the time to stay up all night and cram for that exam you still don’t feel prepare for. But trust me, it will do you much more harm not getting the correct amount of sleep rather than staying up and trying to remember what that one Ted Talk was about.

     Right now you’re probably thinking, ok so I know I have to get the proper amount of sleep a night, but what is the proper amount? The amount of sleep that young adults need is not clearly known, but according to Shelley D Hershner and Ronald D Chervin, it is thought to be 8 hours. The majority of college students are sleep deprived, as much as 70.6% of college students report obtaining less than 8 hours of sleep. If you’re anything like me, you may think to yourself, “I can totally function on 3-4 hours of sleep and some McDonald's iced coffee!”  That may work for a day or two, but when you start to feel physically ill from sleep deprivation and no amount of coffee can help you stay awake, it is probably time to change your sleeping habits.

Fun Facts!

  • The typical adult circadian period is 24.1 hours, compared to an adolescent’s circadian period of 24.27 hours; this longer period makes it easier for the bedtime to shift later. 

  • REM sleep normally occurs every 90–120 minutes, approximately 4–5 times in a typical night, with each REM sleep period growing progressively longer, with the last episode near rise time (Hershner, 2014)

  • Good sleep hygiene includes a regular sleep–wake schedule, quiet sleep environment, and avoidance of caffeine after lunch and stimulating activities before bed


  • Students who obtained more sleep (long sleepers, ≥9 hours) had higher GPAs than short sleepers (≤6 hours): GPAs were 3.24 vs 2.74 on average, respectively (Hershner, 2014)

  • up to 27% of students may be at risk for at least one sleep disorder.


  • Interestingly, in light of how napping may improve certain memory tasks, high academic performers were more likely to nap than low academic performers (52% vs 29%, respectively) (Hershner, 2014)

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