Everyone knows that college is stressful.
We wake up each morning in a rush, attend our classes, attend campus activities or work, and finish our homework until sleep finally overtakes us. In an already overwhelming environment, finding time to sleep becomes more difficult, yet, even with my own classes at 9 a.m., I manage to stroll (or rather flop) out of bed and get to campus.
But many students don’t have that extra hour of sleep before their first class sneaks up on them. For students attending classes at 8 a.m., stress doesn’t only come by way of a busy college routine, but also from the stress of not having enough sleep.
In a 2016 press release by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, it was revealed that over a third of the adult population in America does not get a healthy amount of sleep.
“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommends that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being," according to the article.
But how many college students really get the optimal 7 hours of sleep a night? I often study late — sometimes until 2 or 3 a.m. to complete assignments. On those nights, I would barely get 5 or 6 hours of sleep in total. That was when I still had 10 a.m. classes every morning.
Now imagine a student staying up just as late, but also needing to wake up for a class beginning at 8 a.m. They not only have to balance out the stacks of homework required by each professor or work to pay for college, but also find the time to get to sleep a decent amount before their morning alarm rings.
This is not possible for most college students.
Working a steady job is crucial to taking away the burden of overwhelming college loan debt.
Homework is another problem altogether. The sheer amount many professors give is often strenuous when students are in several classes, and these assignments tend to be vital to the final grade.
There’s no time in all this chaos for a student to sleep a healthy amount.
“College students are often at risk for having mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and researchers believe that lack of sleep is a factor,” according to the University Health Center at the University of Georgia.
According to the center, college students usually get between 6 and 6.9 hours of sleep a night. This coincides with an article published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicines earlier this month.
“After two weeks of sleeping six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 hours," Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Harvard professor of medicine, said in the article.
But feeling bad and performing worse isn’t the only detriment of lack of sleep.
“New research also highlights the importance of sleep in learning and memory," Lawrence said in the article. "Students getting adequate amounts of sleep performed better on memory and motor tasks than did students deprived of sleep.”
We need to keep in mind that these numbers are common for all college students, not just accounting for students attending an 8 a.m. class. So, for them, results may make for an even worse mental performance.
Regardless, a lack of sleep for college students is a major problem, and universities have a responsibility to try and help solve that problem, not enable it.
Abolishing 8 a.m. courses would be just one stepping stone on the path to fixing the sleep crisis in American universities.
Brett Knepper is a sophomore from Newton studying English.
—Edited by Connor Heaton