Sleep is really important – at least, that’s what we’ve been told our entire lives. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve been told to get at least seven hours of sleep - but, does that ever really happen? The answer is: probably not, especially in college. So how does sleep deprivation affect our academic and social lives here as students at Rice?
According to a recent study published by neurologists Shelley Hershner and Ronald Chervin at the University of Michigan, sleep deprivation has a variety of effects on college students, including the possibility of a lowered GPA. According to Hershner and Chervin, daytime sleepiness affects 50% of college students compared to 36% of adolescents and adults, and “Physiologically,” Hershner and Chervin assert, “adolescents and young adults tend to have a delayed circadian preference, and are ‘night owls’” (1). The neurologists cite non-biological factors as potential causes for this “night owl” behavior; several of the factors mentioned include an increase in technology use before bed, binge drinking, and caffeine consumption. The consequences of sleep deprivation, Hershner and Chervin say, can range from decreased academic performance to increased risk of motor vehicle accidents to social effects like self-dislike (1). Another study conducted by researchers Jeffrey Durmer and David Dinges from the University of Pennsylvania found that sleep loss has negative effects on both mood and motor function (2).
Hershner and Chervin suggest various solutions to the issue of chronic sleep deprivation of college students; they propose naps, more careful schedule planning, and enrollment in sleep education classes or programs as methods that students and university faculty can employ to minimize sleep deprivation and its detrimental effects on students’ academic performances and social lives (1). In an ideal world, we college students would plan our schedules so that we could study sufficiently, socialize, and get 8 hours of sleep all in a single day – but it seems like that just isn’t happening right now. It’s interesting, however, to think about how our lives would be affected if we did follow an ideal sleep schedule: would our GPAs really be that much higher? Would we really be that much happier? These are questions to ponder as we stay up during our next all-nighters.
Revathi Revalla is a freshman from Wiess College at Rice University.
 Durmer, J.S.; Dinges, D.F J. Semin. Neurol. 2005, 25, 117-129.
 Hershner, S.D.; Chervin, R.D. J. Nat. Sci. Sleep 2014, 6, 73-84.