News flash! College students don’t get enough sleep!
Well, actually, this may not be a news flash for anyone. Americans overall are getting less sleep, and many of us recognize that we need more than we are getting. But college students are the group most deprived of the sleep that they need. One study reported that only 11% of college students reported good quality sleep, and college students today get approximately two hours less sleep a night than students in the 1980’s.
Sleep is vital to our well-being, and not getting enough can affect students’ health, moods, safety, and GPA. Many students, who may be in charge of their sleep habits for the first time in their lives (Mom isn’t telling them it’s time for bed), underestimate their need for sleep and may not realize the extent of the harmful effects of lack of sleep. As they try to balance classes, jobs, new independence and social lives, students often develop unhealthy patterns and habits.
As a college parent, you ultimately have no control over how much sleep your college student gets, and that’s appropriate. Part of the college experience is learning how to regulate your life. But just as you might talk to your student about his time management or financial budget, have a conversation with your student about his sleep habits. This may be especially important if your student feels chronically tired, irritable, sleeps excessively on the weekends, or is struggling academically. Don’t nag your student, but help him understand the importance of sleep, and help him think about how to get more.