Sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health as it helps the body reset after a long day, but many at UMBC may not be getting enough. For students, studying late at night may take precedence over their full night’s rest. Furthermore, cramming as much studying time as possible into a day may even hinder these students’ academic performance.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens and young adults receive between seven to nine hours of sleep per night, with six to ten hours still being within their appropriate range. However, some students here at UMBC receive as low as five hours on an average school night, and admitted to receiving even less sleep on nights when studying for exams or finishing papers. Although this might not seem like a problem since many students would use the weekends to regain lost sleep, it also meant they did not have a permanent sleep cycle, which puts them at risk to develop other issues trying to sleep later in life.
Additionally, some students reported that they felt the need to stay up and study to achieve better grades, which they believed would lead to better success after college. As a result, many described resorting to caffeine even after admitting they knew it was unhealthy and only prolonged the issue. Junior computer science major Adrianne Santinor commented, “I drink so much coffee, it’s not healthy. I think the most I’ve had in a day is three cups.”
According to UMBC’s Assistant Director of Health Promotions, Samantha Smith, sleep is connected to both physical and mental health, so those who are not getting enough will have a lower immunity to fight off diseases. Furthermore, despite studying all night, students will be less likely to retain information. Smith commented, “Research has shown us that students who are not getting … and this can be students, young adults, older adults, anything like that … students who are not getting enough sleep, though, are actually going to mirror the behavior of a student who’s intoxicated.”
Although the school provides services like the University Health Services and the Counseling Center, which assist students if they are having sleep-related issues, sleep is a personal responsibility students should take for themselves, along with time management as a whole. Despite the difficulty of maintaining a healthy balance of academics and relaxation, there is a way to take control of one’s nightly routines.
Smith advised that students not only take into consideration their daily exercise and diet, but also make a step-by-step sleep routine for each night which gives the body mental cues to prepare it for to sleep. She also recommends that student avoid bright light before bed and do not use their beds for activities that require a high amount of cognitive activity. Lastly, students should try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
According to a study done by the UHS in 2015, 18 percent of students were sleep deprived. As a necessity for everyday life, sleep should be a priority here at UMBC just as much as grades, recreation, and other health. It helps to strengthen the memories we create here and allows students to recall and utilize the information they gather to make the most of their experiences in life.