College Students Get Real About The Challenges of Sleep On Campus

"The young and the sleepless" speak out.
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The Sleep Revolution College Tour -- which has visited 25 campuses so far -- asked college students around the country how hard it really is to prioritize rest.

Members of this particularly sleep-deprived population responded by writing over 50 blogs about stress, work culture and self-care.

Their responses show how aware students are about the problem of insufficient sleep, and how relevant the message of The Sleep Revolution could be to them. Here are some of their insights.

On classroom stress:

But the problem with this is that we caffeine-infused go-getters brush over how our self-induced sleep deprivation affects our long-term learning. Within 48 hours of my homework binge, I couldn’t have told you what half those problems were about, or how I solved them. -- From "Sleep Deprivation Is No Joke" by Carolanne Link of UCLA

Leavey Library, USC’s 24-hour study hub, has been nicknamed “Club Leavey” and “Hotel Leavey” because students often camp out there until the wee hours of the morning. Then, after making it through this sleep-deprived week of midterms, many students choose to “take a break” from academics by rallying for the next party instead of sleeping to recover from the week of all-nighters they just pulled studying. -- From "Is Sleep Deprivation The New College Norm?" by Jacqueline Baltz of USC

We are students drunk on determination, ill with ambition, and perturbed by perfection. Despite the fact that 22 percent of college students say that sleep difficulties have had a negative effect on their academic performance, we continue down a path of sleepless self-destruction. -- From "The College Sleep Stigma" by Riley Griffin of Duke University

On the pull of extracurriculars:

When social worth is defined by what a student does outside of the classroom, there is incentive to overcommit... Add these roles to the five full academic courses, part-time jobs or internships, regular exercise, and social lives students already maintain and you can begin to see why Georgetown’s sleep culture has reached an all-time health low. -- From "Is ‘Sleep When You’re Dead’ Georgetown University’s Unofficial Motto?" by Sydney Jean Gottfried of Georgetown University

Harvard is full of exhausted athletes who are trying to make it through a day full of class without falling asleep. The pressure stemming from coaches to perform before the sun rises coupled with the expectation to excel in the classroom is the perfect recipe for burnout and exhaustion. -- From "Sleep Is The Key To Peak Performance In College Athletics" by Corinne Bain of Harvard University

The most popular, overused excuse for why college students are not getting enough sleep is two little words: “I’m busy.” Yes -- busy -- the word that has lost virtually all meaning in the last decade. It’s 2016 and everyone’s busy. -- From "The Young And The Sleepless: Why College Students Don’t Get Enough Rest" by Jackie Anyanwu of American University

On burnout culture:

Why is it that I keep forgetting that sleep is such a wonderful thing? Probably because I am not getting enough sleep to remember. And so the cycle continues. --From "Why Do I Choose Not To Sleep?" by Amy Wang

One of my sisters said that people make fun of her for going to bed early, and she is often coaxed into going out with her friends instead. The temptation of going out and partying the night away rather than catching up on some Z’s can seem like a better reward for the hard work you completed during the day. -- From "The University Of Alabama Takes On The #SleepRevolution" by Eryn Cooper of the University of Alabama

It seems we live in a culture that has assigned a degree of respect to anyone who proudly proclaims, “Yeah, I pulled an all-nighter.” We shouldn’t be impressed; we should be sorry. -- From "Let’s Stop Glorifying Sleep Deprivation" by Brad Streicher of the University of Southern California

I know students who have given up on getting quality sleep because they have come to believe that success is somehow equivalent to feeling tired and stressed most of the time. The idea that sleeplessness does not equal success is an association in our minds that’s difficult to break even when we know that hugely successful people like Bill Gates or Tim Cook prioritize sleep above their work. -- From "You Are What You Sleep" by Alex Beasley of Belmont University

It feels as if both Penn and its students choose to tune out potential solutions to the problem of sleep deprivation even though we regularly obsess over it. Perhaps it’s because the situation is a personal one. -- From "The University of Pennsylvania Has An Empty Bed Epidemic" by Josh Kahnof University of Pennsylvania

On potential solutions:

A growing understanding of sleep is being promoted at areas all over the country. At the University of Missouri, students are offered a course that they can take from the most appropriate place possible: their own beds. From "College Courses Are Making Sleep Education Accessible" by Alex Leininger of the University of Missouri

Hannah, however, prioritizes sleep over anything else. This morning, having stayed up late to work on a paper, she decided to sleep in and move her workout to the afternoon in order to maximize her hours in bed. -- From "To Sleep Or To Party? The College Conundrum" by Lucy Friedman of Yale

There is a silver lining: sleep actually can be made-up at a later time. The catch, however, is in how you choose to do it and how long you wait before you make it up. Sleep debt has to be paid off a little at a time rather than a lump sum payment after the fact. -- From "Can You Ever Really Catch Up On Sleep?" by Alex Beasley of Belmont University

It’s okay to practice self-care. It doesn’t make you any less important — in fact, it can only contribute and help you with your personal success. So today, I’m going to make a pledge. No more: “I pulled an all-nighter!” humble brags. -- From "I’m Making One Major Change Next Semester — And You Can Too" by Rini Sampath of USC

We college students must redefine our interpretation of validation and instead examine ourselves on an individual pedestal, subject to our own ambitions and standards rather than to the greatest capacity of others. -- From "Why College Students Today Are So Burned Out" by Carly Stern of Duke

Maybe the next time a friend bemoans having to pull an all-nighter... we can gently encourage them to take a break. Or, if it’s you who’s putting in those late-night hours, maybe go home for sleep rather than the campus cafe for coffee. You deserve it. You matter, and your health matters. -- From A College Student’s Convictions On Self-Care" by Jane Jun of the University of Chicago

For more coverage of our College Sleep Tour, check out our Live Blog, why we're focusing on colleges, Arianna Huffington's announcement, and our sleep product partners.

Before You Go

College Sleep Levitation