caused by different events that are experienced by an individual throughout the day. However, there is one underlying issue that is not commonly known to cause this stress. College students experience quiet a lot of amount of sleep deprivation due to homework, paper deadlines, exams, work schedules etc. The lack of rest and non-efficiency of sleep tends to tire out the body and results in a poor functioning immune system. As competitiveness of schools and the grading system continues to rise, more students are seen jeopardizing their sleep, in order to reach the goal of academic excellence.
With enough disturbance of an individual’s sleep cycle, he/ she may develop insomnia. Insomnia is defined as the inability to properly fall asleep on a constant scale and/or difficulty staying asleep for a certain duration of time (Spielman, 2017). Although sleep deprivation can lead to insomnia, there are other disorders that may develop due to insomnia, such as anxiety or depression (Jansson, M., ; Linton, S. J., 2006). The lack of sleep can affect the hormone production of the body as well as change the blood pressure (“Hot Topics! College Students & Sleep). The human body produces melatonin via the pineal gland, which is in the brain. The hypothalamus and pineal gland work together to make sure the body is active/ or ready to rest by using light/ dark receptors. Although our bodies are gifted with a natural clock, disturbances in the regular sleep schedule that is established can cause this biological clock to be thrown off. According to Spielman, there are axons of light neurons which provide information to the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN). Melatonin release is inhibited by light receptors; one reason that students are unable to sleep on time or even properly may be because of the use of electronics. Studies conducted to find a relation between sleep time and electronics being at hand at the time near the evenings have shown, that there is a definite correlation between sleep delay and electronic use ((Fossum, I. N., Nordnes, L. T., Storemark, S. S., Bjorvatn, B., & Pallesen, S, 2014). With electronic use before bed time the brains activity is bound to increase, when, the opposite should be achieved before bed time. Merging the context that was mentioned earlier in the paper, the correlation that is seen of sleep delay could be a result of the brain perceiving the bright light as day time through the light receptors; this could lead to difficulty with falling asleep.
Sleep deprivation is associated with disrupted cognition and memory loss. The lack of sleep can result in difficulty with paying attention, decision making and long-term memory loss (Spielman, 2017). On the other hand, individuals with proper sleep cycles have better creativity skills. The sleep cycle is made of two phases according to Spielman, the Rapid eye movement (REM), and Non- rapid eye movement (NREM). Since REM sleep is associated with learning and memory, students who do not get the full cycle of sleep, may have trouble retaining new information they learn in school. College students who have difficulty sleeping, have known to have lower GPA, lower academic performance, and poor critical thinking skills (Carter, B., Chopak-Foss, J & Punungwe, F.B, 2016).
There are multiple ways to improve sleep patterns. Avoiding caffeine can help individuals get a better nighttime sleep. Stimulants/ depressants like alcohol may aide in sleep. However, it results in the circadian rhythm of the body being thrown off. Circadian rhythm is a biological clock that tells our bodies when to wake up, eat, rest, etc. (Wallis, 2018). Cues from our body communicate with the circadian rhythm and maintain homeostasis throughout the day/night. The rhythm can be thrown off with the consumption of alcohol by giving the same effect of a jet-lag like feeling (Wasielewski, J.A., & Holloway, F.A.). More so, alcohol consumption may be promoted due to shift in internal clock. These issues with the circadian rhythm can not only lead to more alcohol consumption but also a long-term issue with sleep deprivation.
There are different types of medications that can help with severe cases of sleepless nights, however not all of them are harmless. There are melatonin receptor agonist medications that do not form a habit of taking the medication, Benzodiazepines and nonbenzodiazepines, other sleep aide medications focus on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is a chemical found in the brain; medications that contain these names are found to cause grogginess and sleepiness during the day time (Learn the Risks, 2017). An issue that comes with sleep aides is the consumer developing the dependency to sleep only when using medication. When trying to remove sleep aide medication out of the picture, it can trigger withdrawals which maybe make it difficult for an individual to successfully stay away from the medication. Granted that sleep aides pose a challenge to separate from once started, it is not advised to be used by young children and adolescents. According to a study done by Michigan University, teens who are prescribed sleep or anxiety medication will more likely abuse them then those weren’t by 12 percent (Arbor, 2014). Students using sleep medication would not be able to properly engage in classroom activities, stay awake or be able to perform well academically.
Best bet for students to correct their sleep cycles for a better academic performance would be to ditch the electronics at least an hour to two hours before bedtime. The electronics inhibit the release of melatonin which results in difficulty falling asleep. Alcohol and other stimulants may seem to be helpful with sleep, however they throw off our internal clock. As college students become more independent, they have a sense of freedom which overpowers their judgment; this leads to drinking (hangovers) and a disruptive sleep cycle. The stress that college students receive on the academic end does take a toll on an individual’s mental state; which can lead to stress eating and/ or worrying about certain aspects of school. Not only does the lack of sleep effect the body psychologically but also physically. Many disorders and other sleep related issues emerge when proper rest is not obtained, but eventually it takes a toll on an individual’s physical appearance. Often college students are said to dress in a lazy manner and washed out, it could in fact be that they simply don’t have the energy. Furthermore, individuals that do not obtain the proper amount of sleep are seen eventually, with weaker immune systems. Establishing a regular and consistent sleep schedule can help with regulating a healthy lifestyle, avoiding car accidents, falling asleep in class and increase alertness throughout the day.