As you college students are heading back to school after a great winter break (or, if you’re a parent, you’re sending your kids back to campus,) here’s something to consider: college is stressful, and it can seriously impact college student sleep patterns.
According to a 2009 study published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, stress about school and life keeps 68 percent of students awake at night – 20 percent of them at least once a week. Stress affects the quality of their sleep far more than alcohol, caffeine or late-night electronics use. In fact, only 30 percent of students sleep at least eight hours a night – the average requirement for young adults.
“Students underestimate the importance of sleep in their daily lives. They forgo sleep during periods of stress, not realizing that they are sabotaging their physical and mental health,” said study co-author Roxanne Prichard, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn, where the study took place.
As you’re preparing for the rest of the college school year, have stress-busting techniques in place that can help ensure you get the rest you need. One example is using a soothing routine of quiet music and light reading before turning out the lights. While that may seem difficult in a dormitory setting, using noise-canceling headphones to listen to the music may help.