It is no secret that a majority of college students struggle with obtaining an appropriate amount of sleep each night while trying to manage time in order to avoid all-nighters.
John Brown University’s Nurse Rhonda Hostler says that sleeping is not just for resting but also aids in studying.
“Let’s say you are reading your Psychology book and you’re taking it all in,” Hostler said. “Your brain does not actually process it until you sleep. So if you are doing the all-nighters, you are sabotaging yourself, because it will not actually stick to the brain until you fall asleep at night.”
Adam Knowlden, a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati, illustrated in a study the connection between memory and sleep.
Knowlden’s study involved 200 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 24 who live on campus property.
The study surveyed the students’ sleeping behavior for a 24-hour cycle. When the survey was done, 24 percent said they had adequate sleep, 54.8 percent had less than seven hours and 20.8% had more than eight hours.
“Sleep helps us save energy,” Knowlden said. “It repairs cells in the body. And it’s key for memory consolidation. During sleep, the brain acts like a hard-drive on a computer. It goes in and cleans up memories and makes connections stronger, and it gets rid of things it doesn’t need.”
“Here is what I tell people: your immune system is strong, but when you start to stress, not eating right, not staying hydrated enough, not sleeping and not exercising, your immune system starts coming down. Then you live around 1,000 students, so when one person brings something on campus it spreads like wildfire,” Hostler said.
Hostler said the students that visit her most are those who are suffering from a lack of sleep and good time management.
“The best thing to do with sleep is to get up every day around the same time. What happens is you get up every day and go to school or work that morning, and then you go to dinner and that night you hit the bed at a normal time and the next day you repeat. When you guys start pulling all-nighters and skipping that sleep and taking long naps during the day, you throw your circadian rhythm off.”
The circadian rhythms Hostler is referring to “are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment,” said the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
When students oversleep, take long naps, skip sleep and pull all-nighters they throw this rhythm off, which in turns causes them not to be able to fall asleep at night and become drowsy at the wrong hours of the day.
Hostler says the best way to remedy the sleep problem is to become a master at time management and learn when their optimum studying time is. Not only is eating right apart of a healthy night of sleep, but exercise also helps to drain the body physically, causing sleep to come more easily.