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Anders Bjork

Research Paper
Professor Bain-Conkin
Writing and Rhetoric
Sleep Deprivation Among College Students
College can be described as busy or overwhelming. College is filled
with activities, new friends, new experiences, classes, clubs, sports, social
gatherings, and of course homework. Most college students find themselves
overwhelmed with things to do, activities to participate in, classes to attend,
sports practices, papers to write, and exams to study for. However, college
students often are missing out on one of the most vital things that they need
to fully develop and grow as a human being. That thing is sleep. Fact, most
college students suffer from lack of sleep or sleep deprivation. Proper and
adequate sleep is necessary for being able to reach their full potential. The
average college student does not get enough sleep because of all the
activities and commitments they have in their life. Sleep deprivation among
college students is seen as normal. It is not good to get insufficient sleep
but people are unaware of the truly detrimental effects it has on individuals.
Sleep deprivation is a real and serious problem for college students.

Sleep deprivation occurs when a person does not get enough sleep to
function properly. It affects alertness, performance, and both mental,
physical, and emotional health. There are two types of sleep deprivation:
acute and chronic. Acute sleep deprivation is little to no sleep and usually

lasts one or two days. On the other hand, chronic sleep deprivation or sleep
restriction, occurs when an individual routinely sleeps less than the amount
required for optimal functioning (Chiara). Most college students suffer from
chronic sleep deprivation. This means that the average college student does
not give their body the proper amount of sleep that it requires ( "Benefits of

Sleep). But exactly how much sleep does the body need?

Sleep experts have discovered that the body must get at least seven
hours of sleep each night to function properly. However, for optimal
functioning nine hours is recommended each night ("How Much Sleep Do

Students Really Need to Function Properly?). College students need these

nine hours if they want to succeed in the classroom and in their other
activities especially at Universities that are both extremely academically and
athletically demanding such as the University of Notre Dame. Why is this
amount of sleep such necessity for us to function properly? Well first of all
sleep helps to repair your body by producing extra protein molecules while
you're sleeping to strengthen your ability to fight disease and disorders such
as diabetes and mood disorders. These protein molecules help your immune
system greatly while you sleep. They mend the cells of your body to combat
stress, pollutants, and infectious bacteria. In addition, sleep keeps your
heart healthy by reducing inflammation levels in your body that are linked to

heart disease and strokes. This helps to keep blood pressure and cholesterol
levels in check to ensure a healthy heart (Harrington). Stress is a big issue
for all people especially busy college students who live a very fast paced
lifestyle. Sleep reduces stress by lowering blood pressure as well as levels of
stress hormones. Sleep also reduces stress as it allows for a state of
relaxation (How Much Sleep Do Students Really Need to Function Properly?).
Another necessity of proper sleep is that it improves your memory. The
brain uses sleep to organize and correlate memories. This allows the brain
to better process the experiences and knowledge gained from the past day.
Lastly, proper sleep helps control body weight issues as the body regulates
the hormones that affect and control your appetite (Benefits of Sleep).
Sufficient sleep can help prevent weight gain and obesity problems because
it maintains your body and keep it healthy. The benefits of proper sleep are
numerous and very advantageous. But, the average college student is
missing out on these benefits.

According to a study conducted by the University of Georgia Health

Center, college age students average about 6-6.9 hours of sleep each night
(Sleep Rocks! ...get More of It!). A second study that was conducted by Lee
Ann Hamilton, assistant director of health promotion and preventive services
at the University of Arizona, discovered that college students average about

6.5 hours per night. She feels this number is generous as students tend to
over-report in these surveys. She believes that the actually average is even
less that 6.5 hours! As mentioned before, in order for the human body to
function properly it needs at least 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night
(Harrington). The simple answer to why college students re unable to obtain
proper sleep is because there is so much to do in our modern society
especially for college age students that are all together at the same place.
Obviously there is class and homework which takes up most of time for
college students and often keeps them up late. But, students do not want to
miss out on college fun and therefore other factors keep them from sleeping
as well. One of the main factors that lead to sleep deprivation among
college students is technology. From texting, to Facebook and twitter, to
video games and movies, technology use takes up a lot of time for college
students. Technology can be almost addictive and is easy to spend hours
using. It often causes college students to stay up late and even disrupts
them from sleep unnecessarily. Technology provides a 24 hour distraction
especially with wireless Internet and smart phones that students typically
sleep next to while they are on. Technology is a likely explanation as to why
students in the 1960s and 1970s got an average of two more hours of sleep
each night than current college students (Sleep Rocks! ...get More of It!).
Other factors that cause lack of sleep include countless activities, clubs, and
sports. Also, parties and trying to prove oneself play a role in college

students sleep deprivation. Often times college students want to out due
the other to gain a higher social status. They want to get better grades,
excel more in sports or activities, consume more alcohol, or stay up later
than the next kid as they see this as a way to become popular or cool.
However, this often leads to less sleep or disrupted sleep cycles which
actually prevents these students from reaching their full potential. The
affects of sleep deprivation take quite a toll on people even though they may
think its not really affecting them.

The affects of sleep deprivation are extremely detrimental. Recent

studies seem to suggest that sleep deprivation can have as bad as an effect
on your GPA and class participation as binge drinking or marijuana use
(Sleep Deprivation in College Students as Detrimental to GPA and Class

Participation as Marijuana Use and Binge Drinking). Sleep deprivation has

physical, mental, and emotional damages. Not getting enough sleep
negatively effects the immune system, the brain and memory, blood
pressure, and reflexes and causes fatigue, laziness, and grogginess. It puts
people at a much greater risk for a number of diseases and health problems.
Such health issues than sleep deprivation can lead to include obesity,
diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, mood disorders, and shortened life
expectancy. In addition, it causes lack of focus and interest as well as
tension, irritability, confusion, reduced efficiency, general lower life

satisfaction, and even can lead to depression (Dement). Chronic sleep

deprivation (which most college students suffer from) has long-lasting
negative effects that build up over time. The reason for this is because of
sleep debt. When an individual does not get the amount of sleep needed on
a certain night, the amount of sleep they miss out on is added to their sleep
debt. For example, if person A sleeps 6 hours one night, they owe their
body two hours (because 8 hours is the necessary amount). So, these two
hours are added to their sleep debt. In order for a person to pay back this
debt they need to get 10 hours of sleep the next night. Continual lack of the
necessary 8 hours can build up quite a lot of sleep debt (Sleep | Educational

Outreach and Student Services). Therefore, a person suffering from chronic

sleep deprivation may still feel tired even when they sleep for 12 hours on
Saturday night because their sleep debt has accumulated so much that one
or two nights of good sleep cannot pay of this debt. The only way for a
person to rid themselves of the negative effects of sleep deprivation
completely is to pay back all of this debt. Researchers are not sure what
costly effects that long term sleep debt can have or if it is even possible to
repay all of this debt (Dement). Chronic sleep deprivation can be a vicious
cycle that is almost impossible to get out of.

In conclusion, most college students suffer from the very real and

tolling problem of sleep deprivation specifically chronic sleep deprivation.

These students are missing out on the benefits of proper sleep that ensure
proper health, provide energy, and give them the opportunity to reach their
full potential in whatever it is they are working toward. Instead, they
receive the negative effects of chronic sleep deprivation that are extremely
detrimental to a persons physical, mental, and emotional health. Once in
the cycle of lack of sleep, it is very hard to come out of it and be free from
sleep deprivation. To combat sleep deprivation, college students need to be
very disciplined especially with time management. It is vital for health to
avoid accumulation of sleep debt. College students need to be aware of
these negative effects so that they have motivation to plan ahead and get
sufficient sleep to avoid the damaging effects of sleep deprivation.

Chiara, Cirelli. "Definition and Consequences of Sleep Deprivation." Definition
and Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Ed. Ruth Benca. N.p., n.d. Web. 17
Nov. 2014.
"Benefits of Sleep." Healthy Sleep. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2014
"How Much Sleep Do Students Really Need to Function Properly?" What Is
Your Learning Style? Visual, Auditory or Tactile. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov.
"Sleep Rocks! ...get More of It!" University Health Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 17
Nov. 2014.
Harrington, Rebecca. "Colleges Open Their Eyes: ZZZs Are Key To GPA." The

Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 31 Aug. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

"Sleep Deprivation in College Students as Detrimental to GPA and Class
Participation as Marijuana Use and Binge Drinking." University Herald RSS.
N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
Dement, William C. (2000) The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep
medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between health, Happiness, and a
Good Nights Sleep. Random House Publishing Group

"Sleep | Educational Outreach and Student Services." Sleep | Educational

Outreach and Student Services. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.