Sleep Deprivation: The Struggle Is Real

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Anne Weeks
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Being a night owl is not exactly a badge of honor.

One of the most difficult aspects of college is to routinely get enough sleep. It is so tempting to pull all-nighters, to stay up late hanging out with friends in the dorm, and to schedule classes as late in the day as possible.

Sleep deprivation is serious, and it will affect more than your need for coffee to function in the morning. A lack of sleep can disrupt your psychological health, your emotional health, and your immunity, having a direct impact on performance.

Are you a true night owl? If so, schedule your day so you are still able to get a minimum of 7 hours sleep, and ideally 8-9.

Here are some expert tips on how to avoid sleep deprivation in college:
  • When choosing a roommate, try to be matched with someone who has a similar sleep schedule and routine.
  • Create a sleep-friendly environment in your room – low temperature, no light, and quiet. Use earplugs if the dorm is too noisy.
  • Avoid blue light, which disrupts sleep. Keep away from devices, and if your roommate is working, use an eye shade or choose the lower bunk and install a curtain. Do not have extended screen time right before bed, as blue light has a long term effect.
  • Schedule in downtime a half hour before bed by reading or listening to soothing music.
  • In the morning, let the sunshine in. A bright room will be a natural stimulant.
  • Exercise every day, but do not exercise within the 2 hours before bed.
  • Avoid sleep aids. They do not allow for a deep sleep, which is necessary to reap benefits. Avoid caffeine to stimulate after a lack of sleep (sleep aids and caffeine).
  • Naps are healthy, but only for a short period of time – a half hour or less – and before 4 pm.

Keep in mind that the world of work is unlikely to cater to your customized sleep/ wake pattern! Most jobs will expect you to be at work by 9 am. Be sure to begin the transition to these hours well before you enter your career, so you are not facing the stress of a new job while trying to adjust to a regular sleep schedule.

Welcome to reality!


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Anne Weeks

Anne Macleod Weeks is a graduate of Lawrence and Villanova Universities. She has been an educational administrator and English teacher for 38 years, specializing in the area of college admission. Ms. Weeks has been a leader in the college admission and Advanced Placement arenas and has published on pertinent educational topics in a variety of national papers and journals. She currently resides in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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