What happens to students who don’t sleep enough?
Recent studies have shown that adequate sleep is essential to feeling awake and alert, maintaining good health and working at peak performance. After two weeks of sleeping six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 hours. New research also highlights the importance of sleep in learning and memory. Students getting adequate amounts of sleep performed better on memory and motor tasks than did students deprived of sleep. (Lawrence Epstein, MD; medical director of Sleep Health Centers; Brighton, MA; American Academy of Sleep; Medicine, 2017)
This chart shows data from the 2018 College Student Health Survey about Morris students’ ability to manage stress correlated with days of adequate sleep.
Unpack your busy mind before bed! Here's how:
Before bed, write down what you have on your mind in that moment; this may include creative ideas, worries, upcoming events, responsibilities, stressors, and to-do lists. Be as specific as you can with your to-do lists, including the responsibilities and deadlines on your list, and when you will accomplish them (dates/times!). You may even want to write down your plan for accomplishing your to-do in a daily planner, so that you have the assurance that the information is collected in a place where you will be reminded of your timeline. Also, write down what you've already accomplished from the to-do list on that day.
Meditation and Breath-work
Meditation and breath-work are evidenced-based techniques for eliciting the relaxation response. These experiences can help the mind and body relax before bed. Try this meditation!
Mindful.org provides "5 ways to wind down and fall asleep" if you'd like to learn more!
Try a Sleep Kit
Morris Let’s Thrive has Sleep Kits available! The kits include:
- Eye mask
- Ear plugs
- "10 tips for getting better sleep"
What are those "10 tips for getting better sleep?"
- Stick to a sleep schedule (consistent bedtime and wake time) that allows you to get seven to nine hours each night.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. Try reading a book or meditation.
- Exercise daily, but preferably not right before bedtime.
- Avoid screen time a couple hours before bed. Blue light emitted by devices can delay the release of melatonin, and therefore delay sleep.
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, large meals, and caffeine in the evening, especially a couple hours before bedtime.
- Keep your room cool and dark.
- Take a hot bath or shower before bed.
- Write down what is bothering you before bedtime.
- Design a comfortable sleep environment.
- Work out sleep schedules with your roommate.
Bonus tip: If you have insomnia, or difficulty sleeping on a regular basis, talk with a counselor at Student Counseling or physician at Health Services
To help establish a sleep schedule, try Bedtime Alarm on iPhone or Google Clock on Android.
To avoid screen time sleep delay, try Nightshift on iPhone or Night Mode on Android.
Designated Nap Zone Project
Designated Nap Zones on campus:
- Humanities 6A
- Briggs Library 4th Floor
- Louie's Lower Level
- Cow Palace Lounge, Imholte Hall
- Humanities Fine Arts Entrance
Nap Zone Resources
More Information and Resources
We know the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night. We know scientific studies demonstrate just how important that amount of sleep is for health and wellbeing, including academic performance. But what happens when we sleep? Scientists are still working to elucidate all of the complexities of sleep, but research does suggest the following health factors are impacted by sleep:
- Hormone regulation, including the regulation of hormones involved in the stress response, appetite and growth.
- Tissue repair and recovery of body systems (including the immune system and the cardiovascular system).
- Memory consolidation - sleep after learning is important to create lasting memories (synaptic connections supporting the memory are strengthened).
- Learning - sleep is also important prior to learning, and according to neuroimaging research, results in greater activity in the hippocampus that theoretically allows it to more effectively receive and hold new memories (see MPR story below).
- Cellular waste is removed from the brain at a high rate during sleep. Build up of waste products can create a toxic environment for neurons. One of these waste products is beta amyloid, which is associated with Alzheimer's Disease.
- Mental health and emotion regulation.
- Creativity and problem-solving.
- Physical performance and reaction time.
Negative outcomes of inadequate sleep include:
- Weight gain
- Cardiovascular disease
- Dementia and Alzheimer' Disease
- Reduced immune function
As tempting as it may be to stay up and cram for a test and do some late night homework, be sure to prioritize sleep!
Check out these excellent resources for further information.
- Student Counseling (320-589-6060) and Health Service (218-726-8155)
- Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) story: A neuroscientist explains the power of sleep (audio, 55 minutes, highly recommended!)
- National Sleep Foundation
- The Mayo Clinic
- The American Academy of Sleep Medicine