Alaska Sleep Education Center

How Sleep is Important for College Students and their Mental Health

Posted by Joanne Elliot on Feb 7, 2022 7:57:55 AM

Business woman stressed over her day

Sleep is important to everyone, and for college students, it matters even more, as it can have a lot of influence on their own mental health. College students often have to struggle with not just a packed timetable at school but also tiring part-time jobs. As a result, if they do not get enough sleep, their performance and mental health will suffer. This article will provide some insights into the issue of sleep and why it is so important for college students to get enough sleep.

Sleep and mental capabilities

Getting enough sleep is crucial for your ability to stay focused and to take in new knowledge. When you sleep, your brain goes through several mental processes that will help it to recover, making sure that it can stay at the top of its game after you wake up. If you have sleep deprivation, or the quality of your sleep is not very good, several neurons will be overworked, and you will struggle to maintain your mental capabilities.

The short-term effects of sleep deprivation are devastating: You might doze off in class or at work for about a few seconds, a condition that is known as micro sleeping. You will also find it difficult to concentrate and to process your train of thoughts, much like when you are drunk. How sleep affects exam success is also important to note, as you will not be able to recall things that you have memorized, impairing your performance during the exam season.

In the long run, bad sleep hygiene will lead to increased chances of getting dementia as well as other mental impairments. For this reason, it is crucial that college students should get enough sleep, especially during exam seasons.

Sleep and mental health

Sleep also has a huge influence on your mental health. Sleep deprivation will leave you in a bad mood, impeding your other social relations. It will also exacerbate any existing symptoms of depression you are having, so you find it even more difficult to recover from anxiety or depressive symptoms.

If you ever find yourself suffering from both sleep deprivation and mental health issues, don’t push yourself too hard. You need to take a break from studying and working. If you are afraid that you might get behind on your assignments, it would be a good idea to request help from the experts at TopEssayWriting, who will help you to complete your assignments while you recuperate.

Building a healthy sleep schedule

Because sleep is so important to your performance and your daily routine, it is generally a good idea to build a healthy sleep schedule so that you can get enough rest and wake up feeling refreshed. For the average adult, you will need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night in order to stay on top of your game. Try not to skip sleep and then have make-up sleeping hours later, as it will hurt your mental capabilities in the long run.

You can also keep a sleep diary, where you detail the quality as well as the duration of your sleep. This diary will help you to keep track of your current sleep cycle, and it will allow you to make adjustments when necessary.

If your sleep cycle has gone way off track, you can try to correct it by gradually sleeping earlier and earlier. While it can be hard to make huge changes at once, it will be much easier to implement small incremental changes. The trick is to move your sleep schedule up by 15-30 minutes at a time. This will give your body plenty of time to adapt to the new schedule, and you will be able to create a healthier sleep schedule in no time.

College students need good sleep in order to perform well in class, as bad sleep habits can severely impair their mental capabilities. If you regularly face sleep deprivation, it might be a good idea to take a look at your current sleep habits and make changes if necessary.

While the puzzle that is sleep's impact on mental health is still unraveling at the expert level, there are some things doctors know for sure. They know that healthy sleep patterns are a benefit to overall health. They also know it's important for individuals to engage regularly in deep sleep, which means making it to the REM phase of the sleep cycle. It's during this part of sleep that your brain (and body) works to recover from the day, including any stressful situations or traumas. That's true whether those traumas are related to mental health issues or could lead to potential mental health issues.

The Sleep Health Foundation demonstrates this with the admittedly extreme anecdote of those who have been prisoners of war. A study followed former POWs for more than 30 years and concluded that the person's quality of sleep was the biggest predictor of how mentally resilient they would be in dealing with their past traumas and facing the future.

FOSTERING HEALTHY SLEEP

Whether you're dealing with mental health issues that are impacting your sleep or want to protect your sleep and your mental health, consider some of these tips for increasing sleep quality consistently.

  • Create a sleep space that is comfortable for you. That means ensuring your space is clean, set at the right temperature and free of distracting light and noise.
  • Make sure your mattress and bedding is appropriate for your needs and preferences. Having the right mattress size, for example, can make a huge difference in sleep quality. That's especially true if you share your bed with someone else.
  • Work to develop a sleep routine. By going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time daily, you may be able to train your body to develop a better sleep cycle. This works best if you allot enough time for healthy sleep and avoid sleeping in even when you feel unable to face the world in the morning.
  • Invest in an alarm clock that simulates sunrise or bright natural light in your room to help you wake up.
  • Talk to your mental health or medical care provider about your sleep issues if addressing your sleep environment and habits isn't enough. There may be an underlying medical or mental reason you're not sleeping that can be addressed with therapy, medication or other treatment.

Don't assume that a lack of healthy sleep is par for the course if you're struggling with a mental health issue. Be open about your sleep with your providers so they can help you understand exactly what role sleep is playing and how you can address it.

Alaska Sleep Clinic is the only sleep clinic in Alaska with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist that specializes in sleep medicine, Dr. Angie Randazzo.  We want to help you improve your sleep and your life.

Dr. Angela Randazzo bio

About the Author: Joanne is a professional writer with a passion for helping college students. She specializes in writing educational content or nutritional content to help students get over exam seasons. She is also an avid reader of fiction.

 

Topics: alaska sleep clinic, insomnia, college, students, sleepless nights, mental health

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