Sleeping is something that is an essential part of human nature and is a must in order for one to be a functional human being. Sleep is an idea that is accompanied by many wives’ tales, including the ideas that one needs seven to eight hours of sleep each night and alcohol helps one fall asleep and sleep more soundly. One myth about sleep is that during sleeping, one is in a state of nothingness. In truth, however, it has been discovered that during sleep the brain is active, variations in heartbeat and breathing occur, and the eyes and ears are active throughout the time of sleep. These activities during a person’s sleep are important because they help that person be more aware, awake, and alert during consciousness.
If all of these important activities occur during sleep, why is it that people are so willing to short themselves of this vital activity? Although much about sleep still remains a mystery, research and experiments continue to show how important sleep is to each and every person. Throughout this paper, I will discuss sleep and the effects that it has on performance and health, especially in college students. A college student’s sleeping pattern is a reliable indicator to their level of performance in the classroom and other school-affiliated activities, as a lack of sleep leads to decreased performance. Sleep is directly related the level of performance and health in an individual; the more rested a person is, the better that person will perform and feel (Dryer, 1986).
One question that people seem to be unsure about is exactly how much sleep is enough sleep? In Inside Insomnia: How to Sleep Better Tonight, Dryer tells that the ideal amount of sleep may vary from person to person. She states that while seven to eight hours may seem to be the accepted average, there are no fixed norms.
Some people sleep two hours nightly, while others sleep nine to twelve hours nightly without complaint. She goes on to say that as long as the hours of sleep that one has gotten leaves them feeling energetic and alert the next morning, then that person has met their sleep needs. Sleeping in excess does not always allow the person to feel more awake the next morning. Dryer believes that trying to sleep longer than needed will lead to hours of tossing and turning, and not necessarily feeling more awake the next morning. Basically, the ideal amount of sleep is whatever the amount is that leaves the person feeling awake and alert the following day. Regardless of the amount of time spent sleeping, if one wakes up feeling tired and experiences this tiredness throughout the day, that person is not providing him or herself with enough sleep and is experiencing sleep deprivation.
No fixed guidelines exist as to how much sleep a person needs. This varies in the individual and will also vary throughout that individual’s lifetime. Although there is no clear cut definition, sleep deprivation is referred to as a condition of not having as much restful sleep as on needs (Dryer 1986). It is strongly believed that being rested and awake are vital in order for a person to be able to perform at their maximum potential throughout their day to day activities.
When examining sleep and college students, many unusual sleeping patterns are observed. It is not unusual for a student to go to bed at 2 or 3 a.
m. and sleep until 12 p.m. This sleeping pattern can be disturbed when a student is overloaded with work and either stays up later than usual, or gets up earlier than usual. Here, the student’s normal sleeping pattern is disturbed and the student may experience extreme tiredness throughout the day. With the demanding schedule that many college students have, their sleep patterns may vary greatly from night to night, greatly affecting the way that they feel from one day to the next.
College students are at a high-risk for sleep deprivation. Many factors of a college student’s life can lead to sleep deprivation, including living with roommates, excessive homework, a busy schedule, and partying at night. Many college students drive themselves to succeed, with little regard .