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Why the Rise of Sleep Deprivation in College Students is Worrying

Sleep Deprivation in College Students
Increasing academic workload, peer pressure, stress, anxiety, and unhealthy lifestyle are some of the problems causing sleep deprivation in an age where students are supposed to be enjoying peaceful sleep.
Kundan Pandey
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Sleep, as we all know, is a basic need of the body. The biological clock of our body is designed in such a way so as to regulate the 24 hours to the basic functions of the body, that includes hormone secretion, fluctuations in body temperature, and dozens of other voluntary and involuntary bodily activities.
Sleep administers the daily cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Sleep deprivation breaks the smooth cycle of our biological clock and affects the mind's efficiency. Lack of sufficient leads to sleep disorders in students. One of the serious side effects of this condition is sleep apnea, in which the person stops breathing for minuscule amounts of time while sleeping.
According to reports from the National Sleep Foundation, 63% college students in the United States suffer from mild to severe insomnia or sleep deprivation problems.
Partying Too Much
causes of sleep deprivation in college students
While partying gives you loads of fun, enjoyment, and excitement, it quietly digs a grave for your health. Yes, many college students forget that staying up late and guzzling bottles of alcohol directly and indirectly hampers their physical and mental growth. This includes sleep apnea and other sleep related disorders.
Unhealthy Habits
causes of sleep deprivation in college students
Unhealthy habits, like smoking, consumption of alcohol and drug can cause sleep deprivation in students. Regular smoking and drinking damages the digestive system and weakens the immune system. Many students say they drink just to fall asleep. Sleep is not just lying unconscious or half-awake on your bed. It is quite different from what we get after drowning in bottles of hard drinks. Smoking and drinking are the biggest contributing factors of sleep deprivation in the college going crowd.
Too Much Pressure
causes of sleep deprivation in college students
While many teens are able to deal with the academic pressures and studies, some of them feel lost and dejected at their performance. Academic pressures and workload, no doubt cause sleepless nights, but the solution is not in being sleep deprived. One must find a balance in life and set his/her priorities right. If your studies are causing sleep deprivation, then take it as a warning and seek support from your teachers. Don't crumble under huge pressure.
Heavy Eyelids
causes of sleep deprivation in college students
One of the most visible symptoms of sleep deprivation is that the area under the eyes swell and appears puffed due to incomplete sleep. If someone regularly skips a major fraction of the sleep, then his/her eyelids will surely remain sagged or drooped making it difficult to keep the eyes open.
causes of sleep deprivation in college students
Sleep deprivation in college students leads to behavioral changes causing frequent mood swings and extreme exhaustion. Fatigue is a normal consequence of sleep deprivation. As sleep debt accumulates and increases to alarming levels, its results are evident on the physical and mental health of the individual.
Sleep debt is basically the debt that is created when you skip a certain amount of your sleep. Normally, an adult needs to sleep for around eight hours. However, if you are not able to sleep as per your body's need, then a sleep debt is created.
Our brain has a powerful mechanism called sleep homeostasis, which ensures that the sleep debt does not cause you serious sleep deprivation effects. The homeostatic process regulates the entire sleep debt by making you fall asleep intermittently and progressively in proportion to the sleep debt that has been created.
Other Symptoms
causes of sleep deprivation in college students
  • Snoozing off while reading, writing, or watching television
  • Slow thinking and poor reaction time
  • Forgetfulness and confusion
  • Frequent mistakes and irritability
  • Depression
  • Impatience
  • Negativity
Serious cases of sleep deprivation need to be tackled with medication and by consulting an expert. However, it can also be treated and controlled by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Break the habit of late nights and try to balance your life. Understand that sleep deprivation can be controlled by following a strict discipline and routine.
Give up unhealthy habits, like smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Once you get addicted to them, it's difficult to get rid of them. Exercise self-control.
Some ailments, like headache, abdominal pain, and injuries can also be the cause of sleep deprivation. Do seek medical advice.
Drink a glass of milk before you go to sleep; it helps in getting proper sleep.
Don't force yourself to sleep. Try reading or listening to soothing music.
Avoid long naps during the day.
Exercise regularly and make sure you are involved in physical activities. A good workout increases blood circulation and maintains health.
Try talking to elders, friends, and counselors, in case you are not feeling emotionally well or you have some mental agony that is giving you sleepless nights. Never hesitate to take help.
Learn meditation techniques or practice yoga and breathing exercises. They are the best cures for sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation is mostly due to lifestyle changes. If students try to balance studies and sports, this condition can be easily avoided.
Disclaimer: This EduZenith article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.