The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Autumn Vilches-Cruz, junior Psychology major, sitting on a bench outside on Rowan's campus
This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Meet Autumn Vilches-Cruz, junior Psychology major, who finds receiving an adequate amount of sleep is super important for college students. She explains how busy schedules require enough energy that life demands. 
She hopes this article will help the Rowan community by making students understand that without a good amount of sleep each day, there can be harmful effects that impact your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Sleep is a fundamental part of our everyday lives. It’s what helps humans Autumn Vilches-Cruz, junior Psychology major at Rowan, posing upstairs in the Chamberlain Student Center.function, grow and recharge within just hours. When students decide to go into the next step in their lives and go to college, one of the things students lose is sleep. Most college students get an average of six hours of sleep each night, while the recommended amount of sleep for young adults is 7-9 hours a night (MayoClinic). When a person doesn’t get enough sleep each night, it can come with consequences.

Why do we need sleep? Not getting enough sleep can result in things like feeling physically, mentally and emotionally drained, along with weight gain, lower academic performance and more. All of these things can be detrimental to the mind and body, and here’s why. When people don’t get enough sleep, there is a lack of focus and alertness. This can cause things like lower academic performance and car accidents. Someone who doesn’t get enough sleep is more likely to gain weight because it causes changes to hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. The hormone leptin helps to regulate energy balance by restraining hunger. When there is a lack of sleep, this causes leptin to encourage the body to eat more, which leads to weight gain. Overall, getting a good night’s sleep can help humans function and live an overall better life.

Here are some tips on how to get a good night’s rest!

  1. Reduce daytime naps: While naps feel great and assist in recharging when an individual hasn’t had enough sleep, it actually causes a decrease in the amount of sleep individuals receive each night. A power nap of up to 30 minutes is not totally detrimental to sleep, but longer nap periods can throw off a person’s normal sleep schedule. 
  2. Wake up earlier, and go to bed early: Waking up an hour earlier before the normal school day begins can help individuals wake up and start the day right. Waking up an hour early can make it easier to fall asleep at night because the hour a person woke up is one hour of sleep lost. This makes it easier to fall asleep because then people come to bed ready to sleep. 
  3. Crack the window open or sleep with a fan: It is proven that lower temperatures aid in sleeping! This means a fan or overall cold air can help put people to sleep faster. 
  4. Limit electronic usage: Limiting phone use before bed can help individuals fall asleep. If a person turns off the lights and immediately plays on a phone/tablet/computer, this is exposing them to blue light, which limits the melatonin hormone from doing its job of making people fall asleep!

For a college student, perfect sleep can be hard to achieve, but there are many ways to help aid in getting a good night’s sleep! 

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Story by:
Autumn Vilches-Cruz, junior psychology major

Photography by:
Alyssa Bauer, senior public relations major

References

“How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 June 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898

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