According to the National College Health Assessment (II) done by the American College Health Association, EWU students:
Reported sleep difficulties as the second leading factor affecting their individual academic performance
89% had a problem with sleepiness during daytime activities
46.1% reported feeling tired, dragged out or sleepy during 3-5 days of the week
11.7% reported getting enough sleep to feel rested in the morning on 6+ days of the week
Importance of Sleep
Students get so busy with work, school, after-school activities and everything else that they miss out on getting as much sleep as recommended. However, sleep is just as important as all other health factors. Providing your body with the adequate amount of sleep each night promotes alertness, memory and performance. Those that get enough sleep are more likely to perform better in school, sports, and have better overall health.
- A good night’s sleep restores your energy levels and your body.
- While you sleep you repair tissue, build bone, muscle, and strengthen your immune system.
- Getting enough sleep reduces pain in the body, as well as significantly lowers your risk of becoming overweight, obese and reduces your chance of diabetes.
- Too little sleep may cause impaired memory and thought process, depression, decreased immune response, and fatigue.
Even though everyone differs on how much sleep they need the requirement for adults is about 7-8 hours a night (Typically 1 hour of sleep for every 2 hours awake).
Sufficient sleep is increasingly being recognized as an essential aspect of chronic disease prevention.
Insufficient sleep and sleep debt are associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, depression and can put you at a higher risk for strokes.
Sleep debt is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. Studies show that chronic sleep debt is detrimental to our health and should be repaid as soon as possible to ensure optimal health. Chronic sleep debt can lead to mental and/or physical fatigue along with the previous mentioned health risks listed above.
Example of Sleep Debt: The required amount of sleep is 8 hours a night, but the last 5 days have been busy so you've only been getting 6 hours of sleep a night instead of the recommended 8 hours. So 8 (recommended hours) - 6 (actual hours of sleep) = 2 (hours of sleep debt for the day) x 5 (days of only 6 hours of sleep) = 10 total hours of sleep debt. This means that you would have to sleep an extra 10 hours in order to make up your sleep debt.
Major sleep disorders include:
- Insomnia – an inability to fall or stay asleep that can result in functional impairment throughout the day.
- Narcolepsy – excessive daytime sleepiness combined with sudden muscle weakness; episodes of narcolepsy are sometimes called "sleep attacks" and may occur in unusual circumstances.
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) – an unpleasant "creeping" sensation associated with aches and pains throughout the legs that can make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Sleep Apnea – interrupted sleep caused by periodic gasping or "snorting" noises or momentarily suspension of breathing.
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
In the short term:
- Decreased Performance and Alertness: Sleep deprivation induces significant reductions in performance and alertness. Reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.
- Memory and Cognitive Impairment: Decreased alertness and excessive daytime sleepiness impair your memory and your cognitive ability -- your ability to think and process information.
- Stress Relationships: Disruption of a bed partner's sleep due to a sleep disorder may cause significant problems for the relationship (for example, separate bedrooms, conflicts, moodiness, etc.).
- Poor Quality of Life: You might, for example, be unable to participate in certain activities that require sustained attention, like going to the movies, seeing your child in a school play, or watching a favorite TV show.
- Occupational Injury: Excessive sleepiness also contributes to a greater than twofold higher risk of sustaining an occupational injury.
- Automobile Injury: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates conservatively that each year drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities.
In the long term, consequences of sleep deprivation are associated with a number of serious medical illnesses, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Mental impairment
- Fetal and childhood growth retardation
- Injury from accidents
- Disruption of bed partner's sleep quality
- Poor quality of life
Developing Healthy Sleep Habits
- Develop a bedtime routine and begin to relax about 45 minutes before your bedtime.
- Create a restful sleep environment by striving to keep your bedroom a cool, dark, clean and quiet place.
- Avoid nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and food at least two hours before bed.
- Exercising more throughout the day will allow you to achieve a longer and more peaceful sleep throughout the night.
- Strive to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day. Don’t break this habit, even on weekends when it can be tempting.
- Free yourself of distractions.
- Keep a 2-week journal of your sleep habits, logging your hours of sleep and how you feel the following day. This will help determine how much sleep your body needs for optimal productivity.