What’s one of the worst problems facing college students today? Not going to bed. The average American gets 6.9 hours of sleep. That number is significantly less for college students. If you’re one of those students who runs on 5 hours of sleep a night or less, you probably aren’t aware of the major health risks you are exposing yourself to. Sleep has many wonderful powers such as:
- Reducing Stress
- Improving memory
- Helping you lose weight
- Preventing depression
- Helping you heal faster
- Reducing inflammation that leads to cancer, diabetes, and heart problems
- Making you more alert with faster reaction times
When you don’t receive enough sleep, your body doesn’t get the rest it needs to do its job correctly. Here are some surprising things that getting less sleep can do:
- Doubles your risk of obtaining breast cancer
- 100% increased rate of heart attack if you receive less than 7 hours per night
- You can lose up to 14 lbs per year by sleeping 1 more hour each day
- Your risk of death goes up 20%
This all sounds pretty scary, but there are some simple things you can do to help you sleep more each night. It’s better to start these habits now when you’re young so you have less problems when you’re older.
- Start winding down before you go to bed and don’t check e-mail or social networking.
- Read a book or write in a journal at night to make you sleepier
- Do exercise earlier in the day to feel more tired
- Don’t sleep with electronics
- Have warm herbal tea before bed
- Eat healthy snacks! Here are some foods that have been proven to interfere with sleep: Alcohol, spicy foods, chocolate, and sugar.
I hope this was an eye-opener for those of you who disregard sleep as unimportant. In my experience, going to bed super late or pulling an all-nighter is never actually worth it in the end. Whatever work you accomplish will be lower quality and you’ll feel absolutely awful in the morning. So close the books, the notes, the laptops, the netflix, and the smartphones and get some sleep! An extra hour already improves your health!