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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Classes take a toll on Aggies’ sleep schedules

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Graphic by Selena Cosino/The Battalion

Planning to reach for another energy drink during your late-night cramming session? Studies show students don’t get enough sleep due to their busy schedules, and Aggies are chiming in about their exhaustion. 

 

Aggies are experiencing sleep deprivation due to jam-packed schedules and days ticking by faster as finals approach next month. 

According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, more than half of college students need more sleep. Sleep tends to be on the backburner with students compared to studying, completing assignments and achieving desired grades.

Insufficient sleep, typically less than the recommended seven hours, weakens memory and cognitive performance, David Earnest, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics at A&M School of Medicine said. Earnest said students need to have a consistent bedtime routine of going to bed at the same time every night to get adequate sleep. 

“What most people don’t know … is sleep in terms of the period of sleep, its timing, is almost equally important as to when you get that amount of sleep,” Earnest said. 

The demanding academic workload often leads students to irregular sleep schedules, Earnest said. Earnest said he recommends students get at least three to four hours of sleep a night and consider taking short naps.

“You can get good redemptive sleep and feel better when you wake up if you go for about a 20-30 minute maximum nap,” Earnest said. 

Instead of going to sleep early at night, physical education senior Hayden Haire said he stays occupied on his phone and gets less rest. Even if he’s tired, Haire said his choices don’t change his obligations to wake up at 5 a.m. every morning for student teaching for football. 

“Sometimes I try to get coffee in the morning or energy drinks, but other than that, I try my best to stay awake,” Haire said. 

When students become exhausted, they often resort to coffee or energy drinks. However, Earnest said he is against taking caffeine when tired because it only keeps a person from getting the rest they need.

“Caffeine is a mixed bag because … what it is doing is just keeping you awake,” Earnest said. “[Caffeine] is not providing an opportunity for you to have effective studying.”

Aerospace engineering sophomore Kaitlan Muras, who simultaneously juggles 17 credit hours and an 11-hour work week, said she relies on power naps to help her fatigue.

“You get through it because you have to,” Muras said.  “Though when I sit down for a while, I [think], ‘Oh, I could be sleeping right now.”’ 

The risk of lack of sleep contributes to health concerns that can begin sooner rather than later in life if not fixed, Earnest said.

“Prolonged sleep deprivation or irregular sleep patterns is really going to have the potential for long-term effects,” Earnest said. “If you already have risks for cardiovascular disease or metabolic disease [no sleep] is only going to accelerate the disease process.” 

History junior Jonathan Ullman said he often stays up late studying and watching TV. Ullman said that he gets around five to six hours of sleep.

“I often stay up late so my sleep schedule floats around, and it is not the best,” Ullman said. 

Aerospace engineering sophomore Nichole Music said she maintains a strict schedule, averaging around five hours of sleep per night. 

“I use my calendar religiously, so I schedule everything during my day and then I usually stay at Zachry until 1 a.m.,” Music said.

Classics senior Megan Cockerham said she values the breaks that A&M gives since they allow her to recharge from her schedule of waking up most mornings at 6 a.m. and spending the rest of her day doing homework. 

“I usually relax on the days off, and I do not tend to be very productive during the breaks,” Megan Cockerham.

Earnest said students need to recognize that sleep impacts more than the sensation of tiredness.

“Sleep problems are the greatest health risk certainly in the U.S. and probably in the world,” Earnest said.

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