Is Sacrificing Sleep Actually Worth the Good Grade?

Finals week is here and IPFW students are cramming to get their last minute study sessions in while finishing up assignments. Some even report forgoing sleep in order work through the night surviving on caffeinated drinks and pure stamina.

Daytime sleepiness, sleep deprivation and irregular sleep are highly common among college student. 50 percent report daytime sleepiness and 70 percent attain insufficient sleep.

Hershner and Chervin conducted a study on sleeplessness among college students and found that most people require seven to eight hours of sleep in order to function properly. It has been found that many bodily systems can be harmed by sleepless nights.

According to former nursing student, Caitlyn Mishler, a number of the body’s functions are negatively affected by inadequate sleep such as lack of appetite, slow immune system, erratic mood swings and neurocognitive consequences.

“It [sleep deprivation] can cause about anything under the sun,” said Mishler. “When you sleep, it’s a time for your body to repair itself and heal from stress of the day, you don’t realize it but actually walking around and being awake is quite a huge thing for your body and if you don’t give your body time to repair itself it will turn on you.”

During sleep, the body produces cytokines which are cellular hormones that help fight infections. People suffering from lack of sleep may be more vulnerable to everyday infections like the common cold and flu.

According to Hershner and Chervin there is a link between insufficient sleep and weight- gain. Due to lack of sleep, levels of the hormone leptin which tells the brain enough food has been consumed, are lower while levels of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, are higher.

Alia Hoyt, who researched how dangerous sleep deprivation could be, stated that other effects of sleep deprivation involve a lower ability to retain memory, lack of better judgment and problem-solving. During sleep, learning and memory pathways become encoded in the brain, and sufficient sleep is necessary for those pathways to work properly.

“I see this [sleep deprivation] in more college aged students,” Mishler said. “They cram and rely on energy drinks and coffee to sustain them.”

With insufficient sleep, the thinking process slows, it is harder to focus and pay attention.

“I am sleep deprived right now,” Sara Williamson, a senior at IPFW said. “I didn’t really see it as a big deal, everyone goes through this at some point in their college career it wasn’t until I started going through memory loss and time jumps that I started to get scared.”

According to Hoyt, those who suffer from sleep deprivation have an easy solution: unstressed rest. Giving the brain and body time to repair itself in the REM stage of sleep is the best possible solution.

“Unstressed rest is the best cure for sleep deprivation, no sleeping aids or amount of caffeine can compare to a natural nights rest.” Mishler said.