The life of a college student is not one that can be corralled into a description of a few words.  There are as many variations as there are students themselves.  But there are also common traits that any university student would lay claim to and those always involve sleeping, eating and studying, most often with some work tossed in. Of those, good restful sleep is most often neglected above all others, to the peril of good health and good marks in class. All of these factors must be integrated into school life in order for the college experience to be successful.

Of course all students need money, so college jobs are the norm.  Just as university fees are rising, so are beer and pizza prices.  For many, jobs as waiters or bartenders are one of the most attractive options because the money is great and the hours are flexible.  Plus, the tools of the trade are basically a pen, an apron, and a lot of hustle.  Having the extra money in your pocket is important not only to pay for fees and books, but also to finance a social life. And of course, having fun often takes precedent over that extra hour or two of needed sleep – that’s a simple fact that will not go away.

But be aware of the pitfalls of falling into a pattern of regularly skipping proper rest as a result of work, play or study. Studies show that up to 70% of college students get less than 8 hours sleep, and 15% of students have admitted to falling asleep in class. It is a fact that poor sleep quality can lead to decreased class participation as well as lower grades on tests and papers. In fact, a recent study involving over 800 students at North Texas University found that those who stayed up late had a 2.65 GPA compared to a 3.03 GPA for students who did not. And as studying includes the use of a computer more and more, this difference is made even worse.   For example, the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorder Clinic found that the blue light emitted from computer screens keeps the body from forming melatonin necessary for sleep.

If there is a common thread running between studying, working and playing, it is that they all can contribute to poor sleeping habits if you are not careful. Sleep can be an excellent revitalizer, even in the form of a 20 minute power nap, and unknown to most, the effects of sleep loss are cumulative. In fact, a comfortable sleeping zone is probably the most important thing that should be included on your list of college essentials.

No matter how difficult the course of study, learning to successfully balance the challenges of college life is what will propel you to reap the benefits of your education throughout life. Now put down that beer and go to bed. If there is no rest, then there is no learning.

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