Sleep deprivation is defined as an overall lack of the necessary amount of sleep.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. “Most college students are not getting the necessary amount of sleep – especially before tests,” said Dr. Shankar A. Shetty, director of Student Health Services at Florida A&M University.Sleep deprivation can be caused by other sleeping disorders such as insomnia,” Shetty said.
But most college students who are sleep deprived are usually staying up on purpose so they can study at night, he said. “This is not a good thing to do,” the director said. The need to sleep at least seven to eight hours helps students calm down, Shetty said. Some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation Shetty pointed out are dizziness and lack of energy.
For some students, not sleeping enough affects their health.
“I get sick a lot when I don’t get enough sleep,” said Bria Graham, 21, a health science student, saying she would wake up congested when not getting the proper amount of sleep. It is rare for her to sleep for a total of seven hours a night, the senior from Woodbridge, Va., said. “That’s on a good night.”But on one of her bad nights, Graham said she has four to five hours worth of homework, along with lab reports and test preparations. On one of her worst days, she slept for two hours, she said.
“I slept and got right back up. I close my eyes and it’s morning already,” Graham said. She gets through the day with “pure Red Bull and God,” she said.
But trying to stay awake after such a short night’s sleep affects her body. After she drinks these caffeinated beverages, she tends to get headaches during the day, she said.
The affects of Graham’s busy schedule and lack of sleep spill over to her daily nutrition.
“We live off of Special K and TV dinners,” Graham said, referring to her roommates and herself. “We live on cereal, chips and Kool-Aid. We don’t have time to cook.”
Bad food habits also plays a role in sleep deprivation, Shetty said, mentioning that students should not eat lots of fast food. Students should also try not to eat big meals at night. “That should be avoided,” he said.
For students who purposely stay up in order to study, Shetty advised that they should not take over-the-counter medications.
OTC pills are good for short-term uses, he said, but they become addictive.
These stimulants can raise the heart rate along with causing individuals to become jittery.
Shetty said students should try to go to bed at the same time every night, exercise regularly and try not to take daytime naps.