Maintaining good health is important to be successful in college and after, but many students jeopardize their health by not getting enough sleep, according to Murray State Health Services.
Judy Lyle, health educator, encourages students to get plenty of sleep.
“Most students don’t get enough sleep, I mean that’s really the bottom line,” Lyle said. “It is really recommended that even a young adult gets 7–8 hours of sleep, but that’s going to vary from person to person. Some people never require that amount of sleep, but others in order to function well definitely need that much.”
A health survey of Murray State students shows most students felt like they are getting adequate rest. Almost half of the students who participated in the National College Health Assessment from last spring said they felt like they were getting enough sleep to feel rested in the morning most days. 46 percent said that on 3-5 days they felt tired, dragged out or sleepy during the day.
“I encourage college students to get (enough sleep) because it affects their immune system,” she said. “If they’re not getting adequate rest, it affects their ability to concentrate, to remember things, so it can definitely affect your academic success.”
Rebecca Raj, senior from Murray, said she has gotten adequate sleep this semester while staying actively involved on campus.
“Well lately, I have been (getting sleep) because I’ve been sick and so I’ve been getting at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night and I’ve been maintaining that thankfully since I’ve gotten better,” Raj said.
In previous semesters, Raj said she got an average of 6-7 hours of sleep per night.
“I think always around finals week and midterm week, I’d feel kind of sluggish because I’d be staying up late studying or getting done with assignments. I would feel very groggy in the morning and not very alert through my classes,” Raj said.
Michael Martin, senior from Florissant, Mo., said on average he only gets 5 and a half hours of sleep a night.
“Right now, I’m not getting enough hours of sleep because I start my day around 6:45 in the morning and it doesn’t end until about 10:30 at night,” Martin said. “I currently have (show) rehearsal, I’m trying to get ready for another show and I’m trying to practice for grad school auditions and do applications along with my class work (while) also trying to work a part-time job at Franklin. So, I’m not really getting enough sleep.”
Martin said he wants to go to graduate school. He said sacrificing sleep is necessary to accomplish his goals.
“I want to succeed and I feel that to be successful I have to stay above the average and stay on my game,” he said. “I need to do a lot of activities and be in multiple shows and do everything that’s possible to get into grad school.”
Lyle suggests going to bed at 11 p.m. and sleeping in a dark and quiet room to get a good night’s sleep. She said students should use white noise, such as a fan, to block out any outside noises.
“I’d say to get more sleep you’ve really got to set yourself a schedule and pretty much stick to it because your body operates on what’s called circadian rhythms and some people are night people and some people are day people,” Lyle said. “You’ve got to listen to those rhythms and set yourself a schedule so that you can get the rest that you need.”
Lyle has also taken notice of problems students have that occur when sleeping at night.
The 2011-12 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment shows about 6 percent of Murray State students suffer from either insomnia or other sleep disorders.
“If you’re finding that you are waking yourself up snoring or you’re waking up feeling draggy even after what you consider a full night’s sleep where you didn’t wake up and everything, maybe you’re having some issues with snoring or sleep apnea and if this is an ongoing issue, then you need to (seek help),” Lyle said.
Lyle said students should also consider getting help for depression, anxiety or stress because these issues can also affect sleep habits.
The assessment showed 31 percent of students have sleep difficulties, 13 percent have depression, and 15 percent have issues with anxiety.
When students do not receive the recommended amount of sleep, Lyle said, they are more susceptible to colds, gastrointestinal sickness and other illnesses.
Story by Dominique Duarte, Contributing writer.