After a long night of studying for electrical engineering and computer science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology first-year Jonathan Terry wakes up for a 5:45 AM crew team practice in the crisp November air.
With only six hours of sleep a night, Terry says he could really tell the difference between his academic performance during crew season and the offseason when he was on his regular eight-hour sleep cycle.
“Everything felt way more stressful,” Terry says. “I loved the exercise, but it was a lot to balance.”
As many know, sleep deprivation is a problem for college students, but if the pattern continues into adulthood, it may lead to serious health concerns.
In a new study presented by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, 30% of working adults who sleep less than six hours a night are four times more likely to suffer a stroke, USA TODAY reported.
The study shows that even adults who stay in shape and have no other risk factors are still subject to strokes simply due to insufficient amounts of sleep, says Megan Ruiter, lead author of the report.
“People know how important diet and exercise are in preventing strokes,” says Ruiter, of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, to USA TODAY. “The public is less aware of the impact of insufficient amounts of sleep. Sleep is important — the body is stressed when it doesn’t get the right amount.”
According to a 2001 study published in the Journal of American College Health, only 11% of college students say they have a sufficient amount of sleep each night.
In response, Terry says it’s especially hard for students to get sleep because they are trying to balance a number of extracurricular activities.
“I know many kids who try to do everything and because of it, [they] get very little sleep,” he says.
Kathleen Murray, 19, of the University of Vermont tries to go to bed at a certain time each night to guarantee a good night’s rest.
“I know if you don’t get enough sleep, you don’t do as well,” Murray says.
If some students did continue the same unhealthy sleeping patterns after graduating, Murray says the reasons for their lack of sleep would be the same as when they were in college.
“It has a lot to do with time management,” she says. “Students don’t know how to plan out their day. You can get enough sleep if you manage your time.”
Another reason students, in particular, have a hard time getting enough sleep is because after a long day of classes, they still must go to a job, do homework or study, Murray says. Adults, on the other hand, finish their workday and then have time to relax.
“If you’re lucky enough, your work doesn’t follow you home like school does,” Murray says.
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