Dreaming of more dreams

We’ve all heard about needing eight hours of sleep, yet few of us actually live that dream.

Connor Nikolic

Forgive me of any flaws in this piece; I was preparing for a midterm until 3 a.m. this morning, and I’m writing on five hours of sleep. Something tells me you’ll understand, seeing as how the average student isn’t sleeping nearly as many hours as scientific research recommends.

Each student should be getting about six to eight hours of sleep every night. Whatever amount of sleep works best for you is the amount you need to strive for every night. I know some people who are at their best on five or six hours. I personally need a good seven or eight to be at my best for the day.

According to the 2012 Boynton College Student Health Survey Report, about 53 percent of Minnesota students reported getting less than adequate sleep at least three days a week.

In fact, only about 16 percent reported getting adequate sleep six or seven times in an average week. We should be jealous of those students — they could outlive the rest of us by 20 years.

I would love to get eight hours of sleep every night. I would love to go to bed at midnight and not have to wake until 8 a.m. every day of the week. Sadly, I’ve come to accept that life as simply not possible for most college students.

Sleep is vital to our health. Harvard Medical School found healthy, regular sleep habits do wonders for comprehension and memory for tests. They also help with cardio, strengthen the immune system and can stabilize moods.

And yet, sleep still takes a back seat to attending class, doing homework, going to work, going to the gym a few times a week and trying to keep up some sort of a social life. I’m OK with having the snuffles all day because I stayed up all night studying for my psychology midterm. At least it’s better than the alternative.

Even more important than the amount of time you sleep is the quality of your sleep. Five hours of good sleep will outweigh eight hours of tossing, turning and getting up constantly.

The best way to increase quality of rest is to set a regular sleep regimen. This seems particularly challenging on weekends when we all want to stay up late Friday and Saturday night and sleep in Sunday. Sure, you feel refreshed on Sunday, but you’ll come to hate yourself when the alarm starts buzzing early Monday morning.

Adding short naps to your daily routine will also help boost your productivity. The Mayo Clinic recommends taking regular naps in the mid-afternoon, in a quiet, dark place with few distractions. Nap for too long and you’ll be groggy for hours and could have trouble falling asleep at night. So, try to remember to set an alarm to limit your midday cat naps to around 30 minutes, with a few minutes after to wake yourself up before resuming your day.

Even if you’re lucky enough to fit in an afternoon snooze, it’s still almost impossible for the average college student to get the right amount of sleep every night. When juggling dozens of responsibilities every day, pillow time tends to become an afterthought.