Viewpoint: Without catching Z’s, students lose health, happiness

By Laurean Love

Time management is possibly one of the most important things a college student has to learn. There are so many distractions on and off campus.

The joke is that we, as students, can only choose two things in the triangle of a college life: good grades, a social life or sleep. Unfortunately sleep is the last thing on most college students’ minds.

No one really knows what college is like until he or she gets there. I had so many ideas for what I wanted to do when I got to Baylor.

My plans changed pretty quickly when I went to my first class. My freshman biology professor handed me the syllabus and said my first test was in six weeks over the first six chapters, and as my day went on I had several other professors tell me the same thing. I wondered how anyone could study for all of their classes and be fully prepared for the first round of tests that all happened to fall during the same exact week.

Many Baylor students came from a high school where they did not have to study hard and maybe not at all to make an A, so some of us made the mistake of thinking we could do it in college too.

There were so many things I wanted to get involved in, on and off campus. We are all here for the same thing – an education – therefore, we are first and foremost students. That means going to class and studying should come first, but then again, most of us realize college only comes around once, and let’s face it: student organizations and cute boys can be very distracting. So, once again, we put off either studying or sleep.

I wanted to do it all, but eventually my body just crashed. I wasn’t getting the sleep I needed to retain information, which made it hard to study. My immune system was weakened, so I was sick all the time. And I was so irritable that feeling up to socializing was becoming hard.

I thought I could just catch up on my sleep during the weekend or take a quick nap, but I found that just made me more tired during the week or messed up my sleep schedule even more. Although good grades and a social life are very important, I found that I could have neither without taking care of myself.

Sleep deprivation is very common in college students. Stress-related factors additionally play a large role in college student sleep deprivation.

A recent study conducted on 1,125 students at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and released by the Journal of Adolescent Health found that 68 percent have trouble falling asleep because of academic and emotional stress, resulting in later bedtimes.

These statistics reveal that stress has a much more significant impact on sleep quality than other factors, such as alcohol consumption or late-night electronics usage.

According to the study, 20 percent of students pull all-nighters at least once a month and 35 percent stay up until 3 a.m. at least once a week.

Finding time to do everything that we want is hard, especially trying to cram it all into four years. We must have proper priorities. Taking care of ourselves is the most important thing; the other things will just fall into place.

Laurean Love is a junior journalism news-editorial major from Longview and a reporter for the Lariat.