Opinion

The sleep deprivation generation

As the semester reaches full swing, it seems like every moment of our time begins to fill up. There are more papers to write, more meetings to go to and, consequently, less sleep to be had.

Most research studies recommend at least eight hours of sleep each night. But as college students, we’re often lucky if we get about six. When there is so much to do, sleep tends to take the lowest spot on our priority lists.

For all of you dedicated students out there, it may be uncommon for you to pull an all-nighter every now and then. Weeks with a lot of tests are the worst. Then you’ll find the occasional pre-med in the corner of the library, hyped up on caffeine and mapping out organic compounds.

Architecture and film students also never seem to sleep for the two weeks leading up to every project. Having lived with one for two years now, I can vouch for that.

But many times it isn’t just school work that keeps us from sleeping. Especially if you live on campus, it’s so hard to go to bed at a decent hour sometimes. There are always noisy neighbors, fun roommates and illegal hall sports going on. Add all of that commotion to an early class schedule and you’ve got yourself a short night of sleep.

All of this sleep deprivation can really affect us more than we realize. For one thing, I think college and preschool are perhaps the only times in your life where it’s perfectly normal to nap regularly. Also, many people end up sleeping away most of their Saturdays to pay off the “sleep debt” that they have acquired over the week.

If you think about it, that probably isn’t really all that healthy.
I firmly believe that most college students are drug addicts. We tend to forget that caffeine truly is a mind-altering and addictive drug. The fact that the Starbucks line is nearly always out the door is evidence enough for how addicted people become when they depend on coffee to keep them awake.

How do we change this? For one thing, recognize that if you need a nap every day that it probably means that you should have spent that time sleeping the night before.

Also, try to limit your caffeine intake to about one cup of coffee each day. Studies have proven that high doses of caffeine actually increase anxiety, so taking it to help with a test might actually make you freak out even more.

Lastly, avoid all-nighters. Not only does it makes you tired the next day and make you feel more stressed, it also makes you eat a lot more. Then you’ll be anxious and fat, which could be rather unpleasant.

So make some time in your schedule for sleep. If you find me in the library late at night with a large cup of coffee, feel free to remind me of my own advice.

Kendra Moll is a junior majoring in psychology and religion. She is sorry to anyone she offended with her last article. She may be contacted at k.moll@umiami.edu.

October 11, 2007

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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