Presented by Hayase Yoshizumi, Health Promotion & Engagement Coordinator, Wellness & Recreation Services
As a human species, something that connects all of us is the common need for sleep. It is a fundamental need that allows us to learn new information and maintain our mental health. But we live in a day and age where we operate under the delusion that sleep is time lost that could be used to do other things. Normalizing phrases in American culture like “you snooze, you lose” glorify sleep deprivation. Some call it a sleep crisis. 40% of Americans are sleep deprived, reporting significantly less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep (Gallup poll).
In educational environments like CU Denver, lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on students’ academic success. Students who are sleep-deprived can have a harder time maintaining focus, making it difficult to learn and take in information. Sleep also plays a role in consolidating memories. Sleep allows people to strengthen neural connections to form memories so that they can be recalled upon for use while awake. In the 2019 National College Health Assessment, 23.6% of CU Denver students reported that sleep difficulties within the past 12 months affected their academic performance.
Loss of sleep can have a negative impact on mental health. Sleep deprivation has a strong connection with every mental health disorder, especially depression and anxiety. Brad Wolgast, Psychologist of the University of Delaware states “When you find depression, even when you find anxiety, when you scratch the surface 80 to 90% of the time you find a sleep problem as well.” In the Great British Sleep Survey, they found that sleep-deprived people are 7 times more likely to have feelings of hopelessness and 5 times more likely to feel lonely.
Sleep can be an ultimate performance enhancer, especially when it comes to academic success. As students approach finals week, Arianna Huffington from the Sleep Revolution offers 6 tips and tricks to help you optimize your sleep.
More than 40 Percent of Americans: Jeffrey M. Jones, “In U.S., 40% Get Less Than the Recommended Amount of Sleep,” Gallup, December 19, 2013, www.gallup.com.
“When you find depression”: Justin Pope, “Colleges Find Sleep Is Key to Grade Average,” The Associated Press, September 4, 2012, Justin Pope on sleep and GPA.
In the Great British Sleep Survey: “The Great British Sleep Survey 2012,” Sleepio, www.sleepio.com.
6 tips and tricks: Arianna Huffington, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your Life, One Night at a Time (New York: Harmony, 2016), 197.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends: “Touch,” National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org; “How to Sleep Comfortably Through Hot Summer Nights,” National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org
“at all dosages”: I. O. Ebrahim, C. M. Shapiro, A. J. Williams, and P. B. Fenwick, “Alcohol and Sleep I: Effects on Normal Sleep,“ Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 37 (2013): 539-49