As a college student, I am told that I can only have two of the following three: enough sleep, good grades, and a social life. From my perspective, these three components of college life are difficult to balance. When I need to cram for an exam, I stay up all night and get less sleep. When I want to stay out with friends but have to get up early to study, I compromise my sleep. As a student at Boston College, do I get enough sleep? Probably not. I have some friends who get at least eight hours of sleep a night and I have some who consistently get four hours per night.
"When priorities clash, sleep always takes the hit."
My experience with sleeplessness inspired my work with The Huffington Post to put on a #SleepRevolution College Tour event. For our event, I invited over the moderators and Executive Board members of our Lean In club. We are a close-knit group, so I knew we would be able to communicate openly about our sleep habits. Over the course of the event, I heard many similar stories to my own. When priorities clash, sleep always takes the hit. We all sleep with our phones by our beds, fueling the late-night social media binges. As one member noted, "It's difficult because so many of us have our alarms on our phones." We talked about solving this problem by purchasing alarm clocks, enabling us to truly unplug before bed. Most importantly, we agreed to bring this discussion to our individual groups. After the conversation on sleep, we skimmed parts of the book and chatted.
In my Lean In circle, we all discussed our sleep habits. Some of my peers admitted that sleep was something they needed to prioritize more. However, I was happily surprised to find that most of the people in my group practiced healthy sleep habits. Many went to sleep between midnight and 1am and woke up between 9 and 10 am. Also, many took naps on a regular basis.
"As college students, we are in a constant state of exhaustion. We push ourselves very hard academically and we do not help ourselves by getting so little sleep."
Although the majority of my circle members have healthy sleep habits, I think my circle members are an exception. It is not a normal day if I don't hear at least one person say to me, "I'm so tired." As college students, we are in a constant state of exhaustion. We push ourselves very hard academically and we do not help ourselves by getting so little sleep. It is crucial that we prioritize our sleep and health now - after all, it will ultimately help us in the long run.
This post is part of our series on sleep culture on college campuses. To join the conversation and share your own story, please email our Director of College Outreach Abby Williams directly at email@example.com. And you can find out here if the #SleepRevolution College Tour will be visiting your campus, and learn how you can get involved. If your college is not one of the colleges already on our tour and you want it to be, please get in touch with Abby.