Bad news night owls
by Ashley Schiller
Between school, homework and part-time jobs, it can be difficult
for a student to get a good night’s sleep.
Often, students feel that if they just spend an extra hour or two studying they can ace tomorrow’s
final, or if they work late into the night to finish that term paper, they’re sure to get a high grade.
Does sleep really matter? Isn’t sleep deprivation just a sign of a good work ethic? Mirjam Knapik, a counsellor at Mount Royal’s EnCana Wellness Centre, doesn’t think so.
“You can’t disrupt your sleep cycle without a cost,” she says.
If you feel like a lack of sleep is getting in the way of you doing
your best, you’re not alone.
According to the 2009 National College Health Assessment, only 6.8 per cent of MRU students reported getting a full night’s sleep in the previous
seven nights, and 25.4 per cent of MRU students felt that a lack of sleep has interfered with their academic performance on an exam.
Although 40 per cent of students
felt that their own lack of sleep has not impacted their performance,
they may be wrong.
A study done by Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., assessed
cognitive performance in 44 college students,- first after 24 hours of sleep deprivation, and then after receiving a full eight hours of sleep.
The sleep deprived students did significantly worse than the non-deprived students; however,
the sleep deprived students rated their effort, concentration and overall performance significantly
higher than their non-deprived
This suggests that students don’t realize the impact a lack of sleep is having on their schoolwork.
Knapik notes that very often, “sleep disturbance becomes a sign of stress.” If that’s the case, it is not surprising students are having problems with sleep.
First-year physical education student, Brittany Crowe mentions
that this could be the reason
behind her lack of sleep.
“Sometimes I lie there and my brain is just going and I can’t fall asleep,” she explains.
However, Knapik believes that stress can also be helpful. She says that you need that increased energy and performance
when you’re working hard to complete a task, but she also says that you need to “fill up the gas tank” too.
She advises students to allow themselves some downtime. Meaning, yes, work hard to get your work done, but also, “know your signs of stress”, she said. But how do you manage stress, in order to get a great night’s sleep?
“Exercise is one of the best ways,” Knapik claims, and Crowe agrees, stating, “I find I get a better sleep when I work out good that day; when you’re tired from that day you sleep better.”
MRU Recreation makes it easy to work off some of those stresses.
With plenty of group exercise classes, top quality equipment, and facilities like the pool, track and squash courts, it’s a fun and easy way to squeeze in a good sweat between classes.
Knapik points out other resources
including podcasts on the EnCana Wellness website which feature plenty of stress-busting techniques, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation
techniques which are downloadable to your iPod.
You can also attend one of the many workshops offered by student counselling, such as, Finesse Your Stress, and ABC’s of Relaxation.
And if putting things off to the last minute is the source of your sleep problems, there’s even a workshop on procrastination.
With all these resources available,
there should be nothing stopping you from getting a great night’s sleep and feeling refreshed for tomorrow.