Sleep and well-being linked: Students struggle to hit advised amount

March 30, 2015

Kate Perry, Hannah Bobo
Special to The Scribe
[email protected]

It’s no secret that many college students need more sleep.

According to a Gallup poll, there is a positive relationship between sleep and well-being. But the poll found that 67 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds get less than eight hours per night.

Students, who often juggle school, work and a social life, admit to knowing this fact but also to their habit of ignoring it. Orrin Lewis, senior mechanical engineering major, doesn’t think eight hours a night is necessary.

“I don’t think that everybody needs eight hours of sleep,” he said. “People know how much sleep they need, so that’s how much they’ll get in most cases.”

Lewis mentioned two girls he knows who only get four hours of sleep per night and still perform well in school, leading him to question if the eight-hour rule applies to everyone.

Lewis said he sleeps an average of five or six hours per night and blames ROTC, school or his social life. He knows that he needs seven to eight hours of sleep, because when he gets less he notices a difference in his focus level.

“If I get less than seven, I don’t necessarily feel tired because I get used to it throughout the day, but I do worse in school.”

Many students also have a job in addition to school. That means many students struggle to make time for sleep.

Lindsay Hopper, sophomore cellular and molecular biology major, is a full-time student balancing a full-time job at Starbucks.

She said she only get about six hours of sleep on a regular basis.

“I usually miss sleep because I have to be at work at 5:30 in the morning,” she said.

Ciarra Waffle, freshman psychology major, said she misses sleep because she can’t fall asleep at night.

“There is so much other stuff I could be doing” she said.

But there is also danger in getting too much sleep. The poll notes the relationship between sleep and well-being is limited to eight hours.

Lewis agrees that more than eight hours of sleep at night doesn’t benefi t him. Waffle, who gets eight hours of sleep on average, considers nine hours ideal, but more than that makes her feel groggy.

The use of technology before bed can impact sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of Americans use technology in bed right before they fall asleep.

The light from cell phones, laptops and tablets can alter the body’s circadian sleep rhythm, which regulates melatonin, the chemical that allows people to fall asleep.

UC-Berkley psychology professor Allison Harvey recommends shutting off technology at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

Editor’s Note: As part of COMM 2900, Writing for the Media, students submitted articles that tied a Gallup poll to the local area. The best was selected for use in The Scribe and is printed here.