By Courtney Walsh, Assistant News Editor
It's only a few weeks into a new semester here at Hofstra, and that means it's back to sleepless nights. What could be a better gift to yourself then a good night's rest? Simple, right? Not quite. According to an online survey of 100 college students, 68 percent reported sleeping six to seven hours per night on weekdays with an additional 20 percent sleeping five hours or less. Six or seven hours may sound pretty good (especially when midterms start rolling around), but according to doctors, the need for sleep varies from student to student. So while the girl in your 9:00 a.m. Creative Writing class can function on four hours of sleep after a night out on the Turnpike, you might need a solid nine or more hours of sleep to feel fully rested.
Whether you're pulling all-nighters regularly, just during exams or making last call at Dizzy's, the short-term effects are the same: short-term memory loss, increased risk of injury, decreased alertness and impaired motor skills. Sleeping in on the weekend may sound like a good solution, but in reality, it doesn't reverse or prevent any of the effects of sleep deprivation you've racked up during the week.
So how to do you squeeze in those extra Zs? The obvious solution is to hit the hay earlier, but it isn't always that simple for the average college student. Another option is time management, so you never find yourself forced to pull an all-nighter.
Other ways to promote good sleep hygiene DO include: giving yourself some downtime before bed, developing a regular schedule (for both going to sleep and waking up), exercising regularly (but not right before bed) and eating a smart/carb snack (carbs have a high glycemic index which speeds up the release of brain chemicals that promote sleep. For example: pretzels).
There are several DON'Ts you'll want to avoid. Avoid watching TV before bedtime. It may be tempting to cuddle up and catch the newest episode of Glee from the comfort of your lofted Hofstra issued twin-sized bunk, but this is a big mistake. Using media such as television or computers stimulates your brain, and according to an online study, not only effects sleep duration, but also sleep demand and quality. DON'T rely on energy drinks.Not only do these create a dependency, but they've been linked to heart disease and obesity. DON'T drink caffeine after noon and avoid alcohol. It may help you relax at first but according to Reader's Digest alcohol exacerbates insomnia and impairs rapid eye movement (REM) sleep—and it can also dehydrate you, leaving you tired the next day.
While you might not always have the option of getting a good night's sleep, it's important to be aware of just how much sleep you're loosing and exactly how it's effecting you on a day to day basis. So give yourself a break, take a night off from the books and the booze and give your body what it's been craving since winter break.