Students often report that sleep is one of the main impediments to their academic success at CU. Community Health provides information about the role sleep plays in maintaining health and academic performance. Sleep is a vital component of health. It is closely related to immune function, body temperature regulation, hormone release, and information consolidation and memory. Ideally, students should aim for 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night, but it may seem difficult to get that number of hours of sleep per night. The natural tendency to fall asleep happens, on average, twice a day. In addition to needing sleep at night, there is a biological need to take a short rest in the afternoon, typically six to eight hours after we wake up. Taking a brief nap in the afternoon can:
We often ignore the fatigue that we experience in the afternoon because it is not as strong as the tiredness we feel at night. However, an afternoon nap gives your body a chance to revive and refresh.
Public Health Perspective
Despite increasing evidence that sleep disturbance is a risk factor for depression, cardiovascular disease, accidents/injuries, and other medical problems, sleep has been largely ignored by the public health community. Increased public health research interest is critical to the development of evidence-based programs and policies that address sleep-related health risks. Research at CU shows that sleep is a key factor in students’ academic functioning. Many factors can influence the quality of our sleep including stress levels, the amount of physical movement in our lives, alcohol or other drug use, the physical environment we live in as well as experiencing trauma, grief. Environmental factors such as noise, light, and social factors can affect sleep as well.
Studies have shown that poor sleep is associated with increased susceptibility to illness. Research also indicates that sleep has impacts on our ability to learn. Sleep has recently been shown to be essential in memory consolidation.