Doctor: Work smarter, not harder, and sleep

NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 10, 2016) – Nakeisha Joiner faces a huge dilemma: how to get enough sleep.

The mass communication junior from News Orleans attends school from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, works from 5-10 p.m. on Tuesday/Thursday and from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. That leaves a small window to complete homework and have a social life. As a result, Joiner only gets around five to six hours of sleep.

Joiner is not alone: Research shows college students are not getting enough sleep, and this could be detrimental to their health.

A recent study conducted by the University of Georgia Health Center concluded college students get an average of 6 to 6.9 hours of sleep per night, short of the recommended eight hours.

Haneesha James, a psychology sophomore from Oakland, Calif., said she gets about seven hours, an hour short of the eight recommended. At the other end are extreme cases like Ce’Iandra James-Milton, a junior nursing student from New Orleans, who she sleeps an average of about  six hours, but “it’s closer to three hours” during school.

Dr. Corey Hebert, medical director of Student Health Services, warned about the harmful effects. He said your body needs time to rejuvenate and de-stress through rest. Your brain is still forming until you are about 25, he said.

Failure to get enough rest can set students up for decreased scholastic achievement, increased stress levels and a decreased immune system, “so they are more prone to get ill,” he said.

Hebert advised students to “work smarter, not harder.”

“You’re in class from 8 to 3. Nobody is in class constantly. Let’s say you study from 5 to 9, with a two-hour break[from 3 to 5]…You could study four hours a day, have class all day and get eight hours of sleep.”

The National Sleep Foundation offers some solutions for the sleep-deprived: Create a sleep schedule to adjust your biological clock. Start a sleeping ritual like turning off your phone right before bed or reading a quality book to help your body calm down. Don’t consume alcohol or heavy meals before bed. If none of this works, contact a professional about insomnia.