College students and sleep

Jo Ellen Walker
March 14, 2019
Seminary professors write for theology blog
March 15, 2019

College students and sleep

Sleep. It’s a foreign word to some college students, as classes, work, friends, church and a multitude of other activities fill our precious 24 hours a day.

Often, we find ourselves putting sleep after a lot of those activities, to the point that we consider sleep a luxury and not a necessity.

In a study of over 18,000 college students from more than a hundred universities across the United States, results from using UP, Jawbone’s sleep tracking device, showed that college students were averaging seven hours of sleep a night. That doesn’t seem too bad, right?

But that was the average—not the full picture. The data also showed that college students were getting fewer than seven hours of sleep on 46 percent of nights. That’s almost half the time!

Considering the amount of credits many of us take while also working 20 or more hours a week, it’s no wonder we get as little as four or five hours of sleep some nights.

Study after study has shown that getting too little sleep is linked to being more susceptible to sickness, stress, weight gain and mental health issues, as well as causing a decrease in academic and work performance.

This comes as no surprise to college students. We fall asleep in class (therefore not learning what we could).  Or we even sleep through our classes because we are too tired to wake up to our alarms! We do poorly at work or on assignments because we’re tired, and we become sick and stressed as a result.

It’s a cycle most of us have been through, but it’s something we can change.

Getting enough sleep is important, and it’s something we should prioritize, even with our busy schedules. Jesus speaks on the principle of rest in Matthew 11:28 when He says to come to Him and He will give rest to the weary and burdened.

If even Jesus took time away to rest, we should learn from His example and realize that we weren’t created to work 24/7 without breaks.

Sometimes, as Dr. Pettit said the other day in chapel, the most spiritual thing you can do is to take a nap.

So next time you debate pulling an all-nighter or taking a few hours to rest and become rejuvenated for the next day, consider how important it is to pass that quiz, and try to break the pattern of putting sleep last.

Besides, a good night’s sleep often actually helps you do better on a test than you would if you pulled an all-nighter.