The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Why you shouldn’t sacrifice your sleep

Lack of sleep can have several negative side effects including increased stress and memory issues.

I’ve always said that if I could possess one super power, it would be to never need sleep and not feel the effects of it. Imagine how much more time there’d be to procrastinate. However, until that day comes I’ll be working on getting an adequate amount of rest each night. Healthy sleep schedules can be challenging to keep up with as a college student. Between a job, classes, homework, and a social life, maintaining a good sleep routine can seem impossible. Personally, I rely on an excess of coffee (or energy drinks) to drag me to each weekend.

We’ve all heard of the importance of getting enough rest each night, yet sometimes still skimp out on sleep. Or is that just me? To get an inside look at someone else’s routine I interviewed a senior here at UNI. Fellow student, Cody Ploog, Senior in MIS and Finance, gave us some insight into his daily schedule.

“I get about six to seven hours of sleep per night.,work about four hours per day, and have class for about three hours per day,” Ploog said. “I study and do homework about three to four hours a day, and work out three days a week for about an hour. Other than that, my free time is spent playing games, hanging with friends, watching tv, or student orgs.”

Does getting less than eight hours of sleep per night affect Ploog at all?  

He reflects, “I would say that it makes getting up difficult but it’s a normal amount. Getting less than six hours is where I start to notice negative effects.”

We know that not getting enough sleep can have some negative side effects. Such as increased stress, memory issues, mood changes, weight gain and more. These can lead to many problems for students in class, on homework, tests, motivation, and overall success as a young professional. So, it is vital that we as UNI students get the proper amount of rest each night.

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of being human, and everyone needs it.

— Megan Cahalan, UNI Health Promotions Coordinator

How much sleep is enough for a college student? We’ve all been told that on average most people should be getting at least eight hours of rest a night, but is this true for everyone? Megan Cahalan, Health Promotions Coordinator here at UNI, provided some insight on the topic.

“There is a small percentage of people that have a rare genetic condition called Short Sleeper Syndrome. About four in one-hundred thousand people have this condition, and it allows them to feel happy and rested with only six or less hours of sleep each night. The rest of us do need seven to nine  hours of sleep in order for our bodies to recover and rejuvenate for the next day. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of being human, and everyone needs it.”

What are some of the negative effects of not getting enough sleep and having an inconsistent sleep schedule? Cahalan weighs in on how lack of sleep can affect us.

“Some of the negative effects of not getting enough sleep are irritability, makes it harder to concentrate, can decrease memory, impacts appetite, and can make one more at risk for depression. An inconsistent sleep schedule can also raise cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone that can become toxic to our bodies if we get too much of it,” Cahalan said. 

As Health Promotions Coordinator, Cahalan provided some advice you’d give to students pertaining to sleep and overall health and wellness?

“One piece of advice I’d like to give is to work on your wellness before helping others work on theirs. You are important and so is your wellness. Everyone has different values, different backgrounds, different experiences and different needs. Making sure that you get the resources and help you need, such as getting enough sleep or fulfilling one of the eight dimensions of wellness, can help you feel your best.”

If you’re someone who struggles with getting enough sleep each night, perhaps Megan’s advice could benefit you. Although I could do a better job getting enough sleep, I have found limiting things such as electronics, phone usage and caffeine consumption before bed has aided my sleep each night. I try not to drink caffeine within seven hours of when I plan to lay down, and I aim for seven hours of sleep a night. It’s also good to have a routine. Brushing your teeth, turning off electronics and reading a chapter of your current book are some of the things that might help get a good bedtime routine started. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with sleep or overall wellness you can contact Student Wellness Services at [email protected], or by phone at (319) 273-3423.

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