Improving Sleep

National surveys reveal surprising results about the sleep of college students. College students are the most sleep deprived in the nation. Only 11% of American college students sleep well, and 40% of students only feel well rested two days per week. If you are one of these students, this webpage is for you.

Why are students so sleep deprived? Many college students are scrambling to meet the countless demands of being a student along with working and having a social life. The result is that sleep time is frequently trimmed without much thought to the long-term consequences to academics and health.

This approach to sleep can become a vicious circle. Research reports that sleeping less than 8 hours can reduce test-taking efficiency the next day by up to 30% . Inadequate sleep also decreases the brain's ability to consolidate both factual information and procedural memories about how to perform physical tasks. The most critical period of sleep for memory consolidation is in the hours immediately following a lesson. The key point is that your learning from earlier in the day will be jeopardized by sleep deprivation that night. In the end you cannot afford to not sleep.

How do you know you have a sleep problem? Most adults require 7.5 through 9 hours of sleep per night. Too little sleep (less than 7 hours) can take a heavy toll on your mood, ability to learn, cope with stress, and can affect your health. Too much sleep, 10 hours or more, also can cause problems including with health.

It is not just the number of hours you sleep. The sleep must also be restful. You may have a sleep problem if you regularly have difficulty falling asleep (taking much longer than the average of 15 minutes to fall asleep) or falling asleep immediately out of exhaustion; have multiple awakenings during the night; or have early morning awakening, feeling fatigued not refreshed. You can also have all three of these sleep problems. If you are regularly getting less than eight hours of sleep each night, you are probably sleep deprived. Despite college folklore, only a few percent of the human population can sleep six or less hours and perform well.

Below you will find some helpful resources for improving sleep. You can print out the "Improving Sleep" handout; read about the 10 most common "Sleep Myths;" learn a particular breathing pattern conducive to falling asleep quickly; use two meditative visualizations (MP3) to quiet your anxious mind in order to fall asleep; and view an app that may help you learn to pace your breath to relax. You can also listen to music known to be helpful in inducing sleep. If you believe that anxiety is causing your sleep problem, you may also want to visit our Virtual Relaxation Room.

If your sleep problems continue, please feel free to contact Counseling Services. We want to help you achieve the healthy sleep so important to your well being.

Resources for Improving Sleep