Lack of sleep contributes to student health decisions

From late nights of finishing papers and 32 ounce coffee drinks, the stressful life of a college student can often lead to bad habits that can be detrimental to ones health.

“I drink a lot of coffee,” said Shirley Ann Jitarun, a 27-year-old political science major. “First I’m used to it. Second it keeps me alert in the classroom to focus.”

Cosumnes River College nurse Michelle Barkley said that although caffeine is fine in moderation, people need to remember that “caffeine is a drug too.”

“It’s the energy drinks that are scary too,” said Barkley. “Students become excitable yet exhausted and also really stressed.”

While many students rely on caffeinated drinks for pick-me-ups, it results in them sleeping less, said Barkley.

However, in addition to caffeine keeping students up at night, some find it necessary to stay up late in order to finish assignments.

“I don’t get enough sleep,” said Taylor Nowak, a 26-year-old currently in the process of completing his general education. “I get four [hours], maybe five. I have stuff to do at night, like homework and then I have to wake up early to drop my son off at school.”

Staying up late seems to be a reoccurring pattern amongst the majority of college students.

“I only get about three hours of sleep,” said Jitarun. She said that she has a full time job at night and by the time she’s off work, finished with her homework and ready for bed, she doesn’t actually sleep until 3:30 a.m.

Many students underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep though. Getting around eight hours a night is ideal and something that “should be treasured more than we do” said Barkley.

“I’m going to use the analogy that we’re like cars,” said Barkley. “If we’re running our car 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the car is going to die a lot sooner.”

A person who doesn’t get the proper amount of rest often has a hard time focusing, compromises their immune system and really effects their reaction time, said Barkley.

Also due to the fact that many students stay on campus for hours, many either skip meals or choose unhealthy foods on campus because they’re more convenient.

“There are healthy food options on campus but they can do better,” said Nakia Zinsky, a 19-year-old animal psychology major.
Zinsky also said she prefers to bring her lunches. “We could use better tasting health options.”

Barkley said that the most important thing students should remember is that it’s important for people to take care of their “mind, body and spirit” and to make sure students are focusing on self-care by sleeping an adequate amount, getting up to exercise and eating a healthier diet.