The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Published on December 14th, 2012

Stress

On a college campus, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase, “team no sleep.”  Between work, a  15 to 18 credit course load, extracurricular activities, and trying to have a social life, sleep is usually the first thing to get sacrificed. The question is, though we are functioning now, will we be okay down the road?

There was a post on tumblr that caught my attention recently. When we were in elementary school, if we went to bed at 10 o’clock we were cool. In middle school if we went to bed at 10 o’clock we were lame. In high school, going to bed at 10 wasn’t anything special but, once you get to college if you are able to go to bed by 10 it’s a miracle.  According to a study done by the University of Michigan, college students are going to bed between one and two hours later and are only getting between six and seven hours of sleep, if that. The recommended number of hours of sleep for adults is eight hours. It’s no big secret that college students aren’t sleeping enough but there are side effects that many college students aren’t aware of.

Pulling an all-nighter will not work. I speak from experience; I have pulled two all-nighters this semester and neither of them turned out well for me, they may actually lower your grade instead of improving it. All all-nighters do it run down your body and brain making it almost impossible for you to remember anything that you studied the next day. It is better to take short naps or study breaks than to force yourself to stay up for hours on end. Also, sleeping allows your mind to renew itself and process everything that it has taken in during the day; if you disrupt the rest it will disrupt the recall.

Lack of sleep can kill you. You may ask yourself how can functioning on little to no sleep kill you but a statistic from the University of Michigan study shows that, sleeping less than six and a half or more than nine hours a night can lead to increased risk of disease or death. This statistic makes sense when you think about it. If you are going almost nonstop, not allowing your body to rest, it takes a toll on your immune system. If you take a look at the people who seem to get sick a lot during the semester, it is most likely because they are not sleeping enough so their immune system doesn’t have enough time to properly repair itself and counter act the damage that is being inflicted on it. You may feel well; okay what about the increased risk of death? Well, certain diseases can kill you but sleep deprivation can increase your risk for accidents. When you are tired, your reflexes aren’t as sharp so if you are trying to drive for example, you may react to something too late, or completely miss a warning sign that can save your life.  In light of this, adequate sleep isn’t something to be taken lightly.

Sleep deprivation can also affect your social life and relationships. When you are sleep deprived, you can experience increased crankiness and no one enjoys dealing with cranky people. Also, because not getting enough sleep can cause memory loss, you may forget to show up for important meetings and events which can lead people to think that you are unreliable.  Studies have also shown that sleep deprivation is linked to depression. When a person is suffering from depression, they can become moody and withdrawn, not wanting to participate in everyday activities. On the other side of the coin, sleep deprivation can also cause anxiety depending on the person, causing them to be hyper aware and sensitive to everything going on around them, sometimes rending them unable to act or make timely decisions.

Being a part of “team no sleep” may be fun for a while or a sign of achievement but it can and will cost you in the long run. The best suggestion is to put down the books every once and a while and get some sleep, even if it’s just a power nap. It’s better to get rest now and manage your time well so that you can study later, than to stay up all night and not be able to function at all the next day. 

words_taylor duckett. photo_karli evans.