No sleep turns students into zombies

By Rebecca Jung

Zombies exist. At least, in the form of sleep-deprived college students.

As part of an outreach by the Baylor Counseling Center, six zombies will appear Wednesday in various locations in the Moody Memorial Library to raise awareness of sleep deprivation. The zombies are students from the theater arts department.

Dr. Emma Wood, a psychologist and the director of outreach for the counseling center, said Baylor students do not get enough sleep. Wood took over outreach for the center in June, and has since been looking for interesting ways to reach students.

Previous outreach efforts for this issue included hosting an information table, but Wood wanted something more clever and relatable for students.

“Research shows humor is an effective stress management tool,” Wood said, and this is why they chose this zombie method.

Zombies will be wearing black and neon green T-shirts and will have information about sleep deprivation available to students.

Based on Wood’s research, sleep deprivation among college students is a nationwide problem. Medical News Today reported that 60 percent of college students have disturbed sleep patterns.

“On average, students are getting two hours less than what they need,” Wood said.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show almost half of people between the ages of 18 to 25 reported that they unintentionally fell asleep during the day at least once in the past month. This data is indicative of poor sleep patterns in young adults.

The CDC recognizes sleep deprivation as a public health issue.

“CDC surveillance of sleep-related behaviors has increased in recent years,” Dr. Barbara Reynolds with the CDC said. “Additionally, the Institute of Medicine encouraged collaboration between the CDC and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to support development and expansion of adequate surveillance of the U.S. population’s sleep patterns and associated outcomes.”

Sleep is an issue that the counseling center addresses because it affects their work.

“We can’t fix stress if you’re not sleeping,” Wood said.

Students may not recognize that they are sleep deprived.

“When you get up in the morning you should feel refreshed,” Wood said. A sign students might be sleep deprived could be if they feel tired upon waking and if they go to bed after 1 a.m., Wood said.

Lack of sleep is the basis for many problems that college students might have. Research from the Baylor Counseling Center shows that sleep deprivation is frequently linked to depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.

“Sleep is the number one best thing for health and wellness,” Wood said.

According to research compiled by the Baylor Counseling Center, students who get six or fewer hours of sleep have a lower GPA than those who get eight or more.

“The level of impairment from lack of sleep is equivalent to drinking two beers,” Wood said. She said students will notice reduced speeds of processing and difficulties with memory, which isn’t ideal for academics.

Sleep deprivation is especially detrimental for people with existing mental conditions, including learning disorders.

“Students with any health condition, sleep deprivation will exacerbate those symptoms,” Wood said.

The reasons why students aren’t sleeping vary. Sleep feels optional, Wood said, but it shouldn’t be because if students plan their day and become disciplined, they can have downtime and sleep.