Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Break poor sleep habits before they break you

Sharon Chang

As college students, we can expect many late nights. Whether we’re studying for an exam, meeting assignment deadlines or hanging out with friends, college is notorious for causing poor sleep habits. 68% of college students experience a loss or lack of rest due to school-related stress.

With newfound independence in college, increased obligations require more time and stress management skills. It’s important not to let the stress and pressure of adulthood interfere with or disrupt aspects essential for good health, especially sleep. Understanding and being aware of this can improve your quality and duration of sleep. Furthermore, focusing on rest can benefit you academically by helping you maintain focus and sharpen your concentration. 

Jennifer Hensley, a clinical professor of nursing, teaches a signature course about sleep and how it impacts students’ lives. Hensley suggests students adhere to the 10 commandments of healthy sleep, a guideline to achieving a healthy sleep schedule. Though these guidelines do not cater to each individual’s circumstances, Hensley encourages students to use them as an outline and adjust according to their needs. 

“(The stressors) would be individual, and if I was talking to someone about how to sleep well in college, I would sit down and get a list of everything that’s going on in their life,” Hensley said. “For example, ‘How many credits are you taking? Are you an athlete? How many committees or clubs are you in? Are you working at all?’”

I often attempt to justify staying up late by telling myself it’s necessary for future grades or benefits. While it may feel right in the moment, it does more harm than good in the long run, as it becomes increasingly difficult to function and sleep a full eight hours. 

Cameron Parham, a corporate communications sophomore, has 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes Monday through Thursday. She said she tries to sleep enough to accommodate her early schedule but feels it becomes unrealistic when studying for an exam or wanting to spend time with friends.

“Some days I wake up, and the only thing that’s getting me out of bed is thinking about when I can take a nap and when I can sleep next,” Parham said. “I kind of had to build my schedule around having downtime in the afternoon.”

With school, extracurriculars, work and maintaining a social life, it can become challenging to prioritize sleep amongst the plethora of new opportunities college provides us with. However, getting below the recommended amount of sleep negatively impacts you more than you may think. Aside from leading to fatigue and exhaustion, it can cause inadequate brain functionality, difficulty learning and retaining information and poor judgment. 

“There’s immense pressure on our college students, specifically at UT,” Hensley said. “College is so different, and that is a shock to the system and causes a lot of angst and anxiety.”

Better managing stress and obligations can allow you to reserve more time for yourself and prioritize rest. If you are struggling with finding or maintaining a healthy relationship with sleep, there are resources available to help you work through ways to implement this into your life, including the Longhorn Wellness Center and the Counseling and Mental Health Center.

Next time you contemplate pulling an all-nighter to cram for that exam or finish an assignment, remember the consequences and that a good sleep schedule makes for a healthier individual. Preparation and disassociating school from bedtime are vital to achieving a sleep schedule where you can thrive and succeed. 

Ismert is a liberal arts junior from Dallas, Texas.

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