College students should sleep more

Casey Goodwin

The easy part is over. We’re past the first week of school, with its easy assignments, barely existent homework and elementary lectures.

Now comes the serious stuff.

Essays, group projects, presentations, labs and other hellacious assignments are starting to pour in; filling up the gaps between class, work, socializing and sleep. As work piles up, students start skipping classes, calling in sick to work and even canceling outings with friends. Worst of all, they stay up late and cut into their own sleep schedules.

Let’s face it, unless you’re taking 12 credits, living on campus and not even pretending to have a job, the time management gets tricky as the semester wears on. Sometimes figuring out a way to get everything done on time feels like juggling chainsaws: A wrong move would be far from pretty.

That does little to stop students from procrastinating homework for as long as they can, though. Instead of doing homework on the weekend (when most students actually have time to breathe) and then having time to sleep and socialize during the school week, many students chose to do the opposite. Partying all weekend and then stressing out Sunday night is never a good idea. In fact, it’s often downright stupid. If you don’t balance your time intelligently, you’ll be miserable — and exhausted — all week.

Staying up until the early hours of the morning and then sleeping a couple hours and loading up on coffee and energy drinks is one of the most obvious ways to finish all the homework and studying that needs to get done.

The only problem is going without sleep is one of those things that is easier said than done. Some people can get by with only a few hours of sleep, but the rest of us need at least seven to eight hours to function normally. Sure, coffee and energy drinks can make us feel more energized, but their effect is only temporary.

In fact, studies have shown that people who rely on coffee as part of their morning routine are no more alert than their non-coffee drinking peers. Caffeine only helps make people feel more awake when used occasionally; after a while, individuals build up tolerances and need caffeine to be as alert as those who don’t need caffeine at all.

Pulling all-nighters, or even just staying up until 5 a.m. to get homework and studying done, is extremely tempting but rarely a good idea. Once or twice a year is feasible, but any more than that and you’re setting yourself up for an absolutely miserable semester. If you’re tired, it is often a better idea to go to bed on time and then wake up early to finish the necessary homework when you’re rested than it is to attempt to write a paper at 4 a.m. while holding a steaming mug of coffee.

The key to success in college is time management. Figure out your priorities and then balance them. Students need to do homework, yes, but we also need to have time to relax, sleep, and simply socialize with friends in order to be energized and perform well in class. The important thing is students shouldn’t deny themselves the sleep they need to perform well in class.

Casey Goodwin is a writer for The Daily Cougar at the University of Houston.