Spending your week pulling all-nighters to finish off assignments and then partying all night on the weekends - college really doesn’t leave much time for sleeping. Movies and memes have almost romanticized the idea of a sleep-deprived university student, but don’t let that allow you to forget the importance of sleep. If you’re having trouble remembering the importance of sleep for students, allow us to remind you.
Why is Sleep Important?
Understanding the importance of sleep for students cannot be overstated. An adult typically requires roughly 8-10 hours of sleep every 24 hours to function properly. While you may think that you can function just fine on 2-3 hours of sleep a day, scientifically speaking, that isn't the case. Unfortunately, sleep is often undervalued and overlooked by students who may feel that they don't have enough time to get everything done.
How Important is Sleep For You?
Prioritizing enough and good quality sleep is essential for better physical health, cognitive function, emotional well-being, and overall productivity of a human being. Here's how important is sleep for you to establish a healthier lifestyle and balance all your vital processes:
1. Memory Retention
While you sleep, your brain goes through processes important for memory retention and learning. Information collected throughout the day is processed and then stored in different memory systems during different stages of sleep. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep plays a very significant role in processing procedural and emotional memories, while non-REM sleep does the same for your declarative memories. Lack of sleep can disrupt these vital processes, taking away the brain's ability to process, store, and retrieve information effectively when needed, leading to issues like short-term memory loss and difficulties in learning and retaining new information.
2. Mood Regulation
Good quality sleep is essential for maintaining emotional stability and regulating mood on a daily basis. Lack of sleep disrupts the balance of chemicals involved in your mood regulation, such as serotonin and dopamine, leading to an increase in irritability, mood swings, and emotional reactivity. Chronic sleep deprivation and disorders like insomnia are associated with a higher risk of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as lowered resilience to stress.
3. Cognitive Functions
Sleep is vital for optimal cognitive functioning, including attention, concentration, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities. As you sleep, your brain consolidates memories, processes information, and clears metabolic waste products accumulated during the day. Sleep deprivation impairs vital cognitive processes, leading to lower cognitive performance, slower reaction times, and reduced ability to focus and concentrate on tasks at hand.
4. Physical Health
While sleeping, your body repairs tissues synthesizes proteins, and releases hormones that are essential for growth, development, and metabolic regulation. These basic functions are the key to better physical health and well-being while keeping the body free of toxins and rejuvenating it from time to time. Enough amounts of good quality sleep are associated with a lower risk of chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as improved immune function and wound healing.
5. Cardiovascular Health
Sleep plays a very important role in regulating cardiovascular function and maintaining your heart health. Lack of sleep over long periods of time is linked to an increased risk of higher blood pressure, which can strain the heart and blood vessels, leading to heart attack and stroke. Quality sleep helps regulate blood pressure better, reduce inflammation, and promote cardiovascular health.
6. Immune System
The key to a healthy immune system that is strong enough to defend the body against infections and illnesses is good quality sleep. While your body is in a state of sleep, the immune system produces cytokines and other immune molecules that help regulate immune responses, fight pathogens, and promote tissue recovery. Enough sleep increases immune function and increases the body's resistance to infections, while sleep deprivation compromises immune defences and increases the chances of catching infections and inflammatory conditions.
7. Performance and Productivity
Optimal performance and productivity in various aspects of life, including work, school, and daily activities, requires enough sleep since it gives your body the rest it needs. Enough rest improves your basic functions like cognitive function, memory retention, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities. These functions lead to better overall performance and productivity. On the other hand, lack of sleep hampers cognitive performance, increases the risk of errors and accidents, and decreases productivity and efficiency in tasks requiring attention, concentration, and mental clarity.
Benefits of Good Sleep
It's important to understand the significance of sleep for students, as a lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on both the mind and body. Apart from just helping you feel well-rested, sleep plays a vital role in various ways. Sometimes, a good night's sleep can be the reset that you need after a long day of classes. The importance of sleep for students cannot be understated, and it's essential to prioritize it in your daily routine. Here's a list of benefits that come with sleeping well to emphasize why is sleep so important for students:
- Boost your immune system: If you’ve ever heard someone say, “sleep is for the weak,” they clearly have no idea what they’re talking about. Your body produces more T-cells as it sleeps, and these cells help protect the body against infection.
- Helps prevent weight gain: The importance of sleep can also be seen when it comes to maintaining your weight. A lack of sleep has been seen to affect the production of the body’s appetite-regulating hormones, meaning that you get hungrier more often and are thus more prone to putting on weight.
- Helps improve your mood: If you’re feeling cranky or stressed after a long day of classes, it may just be because you haven’t had enough sleep. A good night’s sleep will help you reduce the amount of anxiety and stress you feel during the day.
- Regulates your blood sugar: If your family has any history of diabetes, do not discount the importance of sleep on your health. Your blood sugar drops as you sleep, allowing your body to take some rest. If you deprive your body of this period to cool down, it can lead to adverse effects on your health.
How Much Sleep Do Students Need?
Getting enough sleep is important for students' physical and mental health. Lack of sleep as a student can lead to a weakened immune system, increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and impaired cognitive function. Sleep for students is important for memory consolidation and learning. When we sleep, our brain processes and consolidates the information we learned during the day, making it easier to recall and apply the next day.
A lack of sleep can negatively impact academic performance. Students who don't get enough sleep may struggle with attention, focus, and problem-solving skills, leading to poor grades and academic setbacks. Good sleep habits are essential for overall well-being. Encouraging students to establish a consistent sleep routine, avoid caffeine and electronic devices before bed, and create a comfortable sleep environment with dim lighting and a guided meditation app can help them get the sleep they need to thrive academically and personally.
5 Tips on How to sleep well
Now that you have a more comprehensive idea of the importance of sleep, you may be thinking, “sure a good night’s sleep would be great, but that’s impossible!” If you’re not one of those lucky few who can fall asleep as soon as they shut their eyes, we’ve got some tips on how to sleep well.
1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule
The best way to ensure that you’re getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep every day is to have a sleep schedule. For some people, college is a great time them to learn self-discipline and come up with their own routines, but for others, it can take some more time. Now that you know the importance of sleep for students, it may just be the push you need to start settling into a routine.
2. No Caffeine Before Bedtime
Coffee is a college student's best friend and worst enemy. But it’s essential to understand the importance of sleep for students and the role that caffeine can play in disrupting a good night's rest. A cup of coffee in the morning or even one in the evening is fine, but if you value the importance of sleep, you will stay away from coffee before bed. Caffeine keeps you alert and heightens your senses at a time when your body should ideally be slowing down. If you want a good night’s sleep, it's best to stay away from coffee before bed.
3. Create a Bedtime Routine
Establishing a consistent sleep routine is crucial for students to understand the importance of sleep and ensure that they get sufficient rest. Incorporating a bedtime routine into your schedule is a great way to stay on track. This can consist of anything you want, like a nighttime skincare routine, meditation, some reading or listening to music before bed or it can even just be something simple like phoning home. You can also incorporate the usage of sleep meditation apps and well-being services to create your perfect bedtime routine.
4. Begin Exercising Regularly
Exercising daily helps your body settle itself into a routine and even helps you stick to a schedule that incorporates time for exercise, meals, and sleep. It's best to exercise in the mornings rather than the evenings so your body has time to relax. After a good workout, you’ll expend enough energy during the day that you’ll be exhausted and ready to go to bed as soon as you hit the pillow. The importance of sleep and importance of exercise go hand in hand, so you’d be reaping the benefits of both and staying extra fit!
5. Take Fewer Afternoon Naps
We know there’s nothing more satisfying than taking a cat nap or even a long snooze during the day, but if you value the importance of sleep, you’ll try to cut down on your naps. As hard as it may seem, cutting down on naps is a great way to ensure that you get a good 8 hours of sleep every night. Napping throughout the day will give you a few minutes of REM sleep, but not enough to ensure proper functioning.
Good sleep can keep you optimum, so you’re nothing less than a winner in your academic life. It keeps your immune system healthy and your health insurance premiums low. We hope that this blog has helped you better understand the importance of sleep as a college student. We know that university life can get hectic, but you always need to prioritize health. Try out some of our tips, and we promise you’ll be one step closer to getting your sleep schedule back on track!