By Asia Daggs
Blog Content Contributor
Between school, work and a social life, being a college student can be restless. We are up early on weekdays for classes and later go home to get prepared for work, or vice versa. We also like to hang with friends and go out on weekends to have some fun. Now, on top of those there are even more factors such as studying, eating and other extracurricular activities that take up time in our everyday lives. Where do we fit the time in to sleep? According to Sleepless at Stanford, the average college student needs over eight hours of sleep every night in order to function at our best. If you are not receiving the full eight hours, it is possible you are increasing your sleep debt. Over time, the debt continues to add up and can turn into fatigue that is able to affect our health and/or well-being.
Fatigue is defined as a constant state of weariness that cannot be relieved by rest. For instance, lack of sleep and excess physical activity can grow to be symptoms of fatigue. Additionally, there are other factors like unhealthy eating habits and use of alcohol and drugs that can play a part in your exhaustion. Fatigue can cause a reduction in your energy, motivation and concentration. Those side effects can be hurtful to our grades and how we perform at our jobs or other responsibilities.
I know that going to sleep at a decent time is easier said than done. I will lay in bed and play on my phone for hours before I actually fall asleep, but I want to drop that habit so badly. This topic came to me as I was trying to diagnose myself by googling ‘why am I so tired?’ and came across the idea of exhaustion turning into fatigue. I went through my mind and tried to recall when I first started to losing sleep. I remembered back to my senior year in high school when I was super busy with school and my extracurricular activities throughout the week and how it would roll over into my weekends. It is now my sophomore year in college and I am still struggling with my sleeping pattern. I have been trying to find remedies and all other types of possible solutions.
One of the most effective ways that I have used is putting my phone away and turning off the TV. I would just lay in the dark and concentrate on falling asleep and eventually it would work. Melatonin is a hormone that controls our sleeping and waking cycles and is released by our brain at the appropriate times. It is also affected by light, so melatonin releases closer to the evening when it is time to start heading for bed. For instance, when it is dark in your room, your brain will release higher levels of melatonin, making it easier for you to fall asleep. So put away all technology and other distractions before you go to bed. It may sound like a nightmare, but just give it a try.
It is important for us to receive enough sleep for our bodies to work at its absolute best. Fatigue can make you more prone to having colds or flus and create long term issues such as depression, anxiety or even sleep apnea. College students need to be aware of their health in order to take care of themselves. Creating a daily schedule or just mentally planning out your day are additional ways to help improve your wake and sleep cycles. Try setting a realistic bedtime for yourself that would allow you enough time to get everything you need done before night falls. Remember that your sleep debt will not vanish in one night of good sleep. So, try using an entire week to catch up and you will be able to notice a bigger difference.