Awareness of how sleep habits impact grades and overall success is increasing, but students probably need more messaging about that impact.
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Parties and papers, alcohol use and caffeine consumption, stress from feeling overscheduled, and overstimulation from technology. All of these and more play a role in college students not getting enough sleep. As research has shown, lack of sleep often impacts physical health, mental well-being and the ability to do daily activities; plus, it can be a predictor of lower grades.
Dr. Nilong Vyas, a sleep consultant with Sleepless in NOLA and medical review expert at SleepFoundation.org, as well as a board-certified pediatrician, says it’s important for colleges to get the messaging right when raising awareness about the need for sleep. She offers the following tips for communicating about sleep:
Sound the alarm about the link between lack of sleep and academic struggles. “The awareness of the impacts of sleep on grades is increasing, but the message has not been as far-reaching as possible,” Dr. Vyas says.
Wipe out sleep misconceptions. It’s common for students to believe they can “pull an all-nighter to study or party in college and that sleep debt can be made up on the weekend by sleeping in,” she explains. “That is a massive misconception, in that it is tough to ‘make up’ lost sleep.”
Get faculty members and staff comfortable discussing why more rest is best. While student health centers naturally get involved in sleep education, Dr. Vyas believes that anyone interacting directly with students should bring up its importance—and even that “sleep discussion should be part of the framework and tapestry of coursework.” Counseling sessions, meanwhile, may not typically include questions about sleep habits, but they should.
Develop messaging around outcomes. Campaigns—which might encourage the use of apps to track sleep and improve time management—can include how sleep impacts appearance, memory retention and athletic performance, says Dr. Vyas. “During sleep is when the brain consolidates all the memories (and knowledge that was learned). … Every subtype of student can be shown the benefits of sleep, how it can [help] them become better versions of themselves and help them reach their goals in college and beyond.”
View the original publication on Inside Higher Ed click here.