Finals week is commonly associated with intense stress, poor eating habits, and low sleep quality. While college students usually have bad sleep habits and suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, the additional stress and worry associated with tests may cause them to pull an all nighter and stay up all night to study for examinations.
Unfortunately, trying to stay awake at all costs might hurt your grades. The solution may be as simple as getting enough sleep to achieve higher exam results. That is, of course, easier said than done. This short study guide was created to help you sleep better during finals week.
How much sleep should college students get?
Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, while teenagers might need even 11 hours at night. Young adults such as college students are somewhere in between needing between 7 and 10 hours of sleep.
The circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, regulate our natural sleep cycle. Teenagers go through the circadian shift, and their bodies become more tired later in the day.
Unfortunately, this circadian rhythm shift occurs as teenagers and young adults start school earlier. As a result, students struggle with getting out of bed far too early in high school and throughout college. Even if students do get sufficient sleep, this change in sleep schedule may still result in undesirable consequences, such as poor mood and attention, as well as increased feelings of sadness.
Sleep deprivation among college students is widespread. On weeknights, between 70 and 96 percent of college students sleep less than eight hours. Over half of university undergrads get under seven hours of sleep each night, with 47% reporting frequent drowsiness. Sixty percent of college students have sleep problems that qualify as clinical, with 27% at danger of developing one.
The typical college student sleeps fewer hours during final exams, for 6.36 hours each night. However, more than half of one study of architecture students reported pulling at least three all-nighters each month.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
College students’ sleeping habits are successfully contributing to poor sleep. This can cause sleep deprivation, in which you don’t get enough sleep. In addition, it may result in significant health issues.
When we’re sleep-deprived, we experience symptoms like:
- As a result, immunity is weakened, and you are at a higher risk of infection and illness.
- Increased stress levels
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- An increased risk of poor mood and depressive symptoms
- Decreased sports performance
- Increased risk of driving accidents
- Impaired cognitive performance
Apart from direct risks of sleep deprivation, college students engage in other health degrading behaviors such as poor diet, drinking too much caffeine trying to stay awake, stressing out, exposing to light from smartphones and computers.
Should I sleep or study?
The answer is sleep. Healthy sleep improves memory and recall, and it correlates with higher test results. Even the night before an exam, sleeping throughout the night can have significant benefits. Research has found that getting a whole night’s sleep before taking an exam is correlated with better grades and a higher overall GPA.
Because of REM sleep, our brain can process information, store memories, and help recall them in the future. Deep sleep is also crucial for regulating emotions lowering stress levels and depressive symptoms.
How to sleep when you need to study?
We present you the tips to improve your sleep quality when you need to study.
It’s impossible to keep the same concentration level studying hours at a time. This is because the maximum time of studying continuously is 2 hours. However, you can break the 2 hours down into 25 minutes of looking and taking 5 minutes of break.
Get up and stretch during the short break or do a short breathing exercise and let your eyes rest. Then, after 2 hours, take a more extended 20-minute break.
During longer breaks, take a power nap. Napping after you study can help improve your memory. Your naps should last 20 to 30 minutes, and make sure they end by early afternoon. Otherwise, you may have a problem falling asleep later.
Eating foods rich in nutrients is excellent, especially if you need a lot of energy to study. However, food high in fat and sugar can make you sleepy and apathetic. Instead, eat a balanced and healthy diet rich in nutrients and fiber to stay awake during studying. Ditch the energy drinks with loads of sugar and opt for coffee or tea.
Cold water can improve blood flowing and put you in a better mood. In addition, it decreases stress and can make you more alert after long hours of studying.
Mild exercise can have a lot of benefits to your body. It increases oxygen levels and reduces stress, especially when you’re outside. A short walk to clear your head is more than enough to make you alert for the subsequent study sessions.
A consistent sleep routine can improve your academic performance and your sleep cycle. Fall asleep the same hour every day, and you won’t feel sleepy waking up before you study.
Drinking enough water
If you forget to drink water during study sessions, you might feel tired, dizzy, or have a headache. These are the symptoms of dehydration contributing to poor health and low sleep quality.
The question of whether to sleep or study is a typical student dilemma. We hope we described the topic thoroughly and explained how vital sleep is, especially during finals.
As the takeaway from this article, we recommend taking breaks, doing power naps, eating a healthy diet, and drinking enough water. It also suggests maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and exercising regularly.