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To Sleep Or Not to Sleep: Here are 7 tips to get good sleep this semester

By: Deyuan Zheng, Staff Writer

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To sleep or not to sleep…is the eternal question that all college students ask themselves at some point of their academic career.

We all know that sleep is a necessity, especially for those who are no strangers to hard work since it gives a chance for the brain to “process, organize, and store information” that is accumulated over the day to form memories.

Memories that is crucial to our everyday lives whether it be used to ace an exam or information that could actually save a person’s life. Yet despite its crucial function, it is college students who are often the victims of sleep deprivation.

How much sleep does a college student need? According to experts at Stanford University Department for the Diagnosis and Treatment for Sleep Disorders state, college students should be getting the minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night. However, most students get less than 7 hours of sleep.

Once students enter college, they start to become sleep deprived due to the constant demands and pressures: from their studies, being an active member in organizations, or working jobs to bring in revenue to support their education.

Additionally, many students wake up hours in advance to commute to campus. This leaves college students a couple of hours to actually lie down and sleep. As such, it comes as no surprise that even through many manage to catch a few hours of sleep on a daily basis, there are still many that experience insomnia.

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Those that experience insomnia often lie awake for at least 30 minutes before they are able to get some shut eye, further reducing the duration of their sleep. AASM, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, states about 30 percent of adults experience insomnia, which can include college students. Insomnia comes into two different forms: acute and chronic.

Acute insomnia is what most people experience and is a result from accumulating stress, pressures or could even be caused by dramatic events. This version can last for weeks if not for a few days. Chronic insomnia often occurs as a side effect from medications and sleeping disorders.

Unfortunately insomnia isn’t something that can be easily treated. It often occurs without precedence and leaves on its own accord. But for the duration that it is there, it proves that it can be one of the main reasons why students are performing so poorly in their classes.

A lack of sleep induces more stress on the student, hindering their judgment, and causing the student to experience mood swings – all of which are factors that cause grades to plummet.

There are 4 stages of sleep. The most important stage is REM sleep, for this is stage where the brain has its most heightened activity, processing through the day’s events to form memories.

REM sleep or Rapid Eye Movement sleep, is also the stage where lucid dreaming occurs, resulting in a person’s eyes shifting while the rest of their body is paralyzed. The duration of REM sleep increases the longer one sleeps, for the sleep cycle repeats but sleeping for short intervals means that the duration of REM can also be reduced.

Knowing sleep still remains an issue for college student even in this day and age; interviews were conducted with LIU Brooklyn College Students. After interviewing 20 students, it is shown that several do experience periods of insomnia.

Others have trouble falling asleep after waking up in the middle of the night. There are even some candidates that often pull all-nighters to study or for other personal reasons. There are even a few that rely on medication to induce sleep.

Because of their fatigue, many rely on caffeine stimulants, such as coffee, to keep them awake throughout the day. However, there are several who still fall asleep in their classes or need to take several short naps, despite these countermeasures.

This issue of sleep deprivation has existed for a while, inspiring students such as myself to search for tips or solutions to alleviate the issue. After several rounds of interviews with these 20 LIU Brooklyn students, there were certain suggestions they offered to help induce unconsciousness. These suggestions are listed below.

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  •       Drink Warm Milk 30 Minutes before Bed

Milk contains amino acid known as tryptophan and also a hormone called melatonin. Both of these help induce sleep.

  •       Read a book for 30 Minutes, Watch Comedy shows, or Listen to soothing music

Listening to music and reading can help ease the mind and reduce anxiety. The same applies to watching shows. However there is a negative effect in using electronics right before bed. The artificial light emitted can cause people to stay awake for longer periods of time. This method should only be used if one is going through an incredibly stressful day and needs to unwind.

  •       Keep a Journal to jot down thoughts before bed

This helps reduce the amount of anxiety one can feel before nodding off to sleep, helping with any inner turmoil one might experience throughout the day.

  •       Keep a consistent sleep schedule that you can follow even on the weekends.

Sleep schedules that are consistent maintain the circadian rhythm, allowing the body to know when it needs to sleep and when it needs to wake up.

  •       Make sure the environment is comfortable

It is essential to make sure the room’s surroundings are suitable for sleep. Ensure the room is not too warm, “free of light”, “free of allergens,” and “free of noise”. Ear plugs, eye shades or humidifiers are all measures that many use to secure comfort.

  •       Power naps are preferred over drinking caffeine

Naps of 20-90 minutes are more beneficial than beverages that contain caffeine. Caffeinated beverages can inhibit one’s ability to fall asleep. Naps, on the other hand, can help restore better cognitive and motor functions as it lets the body rest and go to a state of alertness. However, do not be alarmed if after taking a nap, you feel foggy. That is normal.

  •       Avoid taking medications too often to induce sleep. Let it be a natural process.

Medication should be a last resort to induce sleep. While effective, there is a high likelihood that one can become addicted. Also, if one goes off the medication for a while, and then returns back to it, the body might be unable to adjust to the change, resulting in even more sleeping problems than before.

For those out there that experience sleeping troubles, we do hope using these tips can help you fall asleep quicker and more efficiently.

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Category: News, Op Ed