Pulling an all-nighter to finish a project or study for a test might not seem like it will have long lasting effects on a person’s health, but that isn’t the case, according a recent Huffington Post article.
Ignoring natural sleep timers puts stress on a body, stress that some people might think can be undone by getting a few extra hours of sleep the next day.
That isn’t true according to, “Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You and Your Career,” an article written by Dr. Travis Bradberry for the Huffington Post.
“The next time you tell yourself that you’ll sleep when you’re dead, realize that you’re making a decision that can make that day come much sooner,” Bradberry said. “Pushing late into the night is a health and productivity killer.”
Skipping a night of sleep affects energy levels, mood and the ability to focus, but it also carries long term side effects, such as increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
When a body is exposed to stress, it overproduces cortisol, the stress hormone, even more so when it’s sleep deprived. Aside from the physical effects, increased levels of cortisol can also cosmetic issues.
Cortisol can lead to premature aging because it breaks down skin collagen. Collagen is a protein that works to smooth the skin and promote elasticity.
According to a recent study conducted by the University of Georgia, on average most college students get six to 6.9 hours of sleep per night.
“The college years are notoriously sleep-deprived due to an overload of activities,” according to the study.
Junior mathematics major Jake Maguire said his busy schedule has increased his appreciation for sleeping.
“I try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night during the week. On the weekends, I always sleep in, though,” Maguire said.
Maguire said that between working an average of 20 hours a week for his part time job at a local grocery store and taking 17 credits worth of classes, his days seem to go by very fast.
“By the time I’ve finished my homework after I get home from work, I’m practically crawling to my bed it seems,” he said.
Maguire also said his brain doesn’t like to cooperate with the rest of his body when he decides that it’s time for bed.
“I really didn’t understand how I could be so tired and my brain would still be in ‘go, go, go mode,’ and it would take me a while to fall asleep,” he said. “I eventually got a sound machine after a recommendation from a friend and that seems to be helping.”
For men, the lack of sleep can lead to reproductive issues. The stress put on the body by not getting enough sleep can contribute to reduced testosterone levels and lower sperm count, according to the Huffington Post article.
“I never realized how important getting a good night’s sleep is until I came to college,” Maguire said. “I think we really put our health on the back burner sometimes because we are so busy, and that’s scary.”
The brain organizes, sorts, and stores the information that a person has learned and experienced throughout the day during sleep. This process also discards irrelevant information and solidifies connections between stored memories and information learned during the day. These connections are made even if they have not been made while the person is awake.
Senior psychology major Casey Mullens keeps a dream book. Mullens writes down her dreams in a small black notebook in order to track trends.
“Sleeping really is a huge part of my life,” she said. “Because of my dream tracking, I’ve come to understand the different levels of sleep that my body experiences on any given night.”
Mullens said reaching deep levels of sleep is what’s really important to feeling rested and refreshed in the morning.
“Personally, I know that if I get less than six hours of sleep, I will not function like I normally would throughout the day.”
Before Mullens started tracking her dreams, she said she didn’t pay much attention to how much sleep she got each night.
“I didn’t really think about it. I certainly wasn’t getting as much as I should have been,” she said. “I would go out on the weekends and stay up until like 4 a.m. and then sleep to noon and start the cycle over with my friends.”
Mullens believes students on campus do not take the consequences of not getting enough sleep seriously.
“I think if more students understood how much bad it is, they definitely would take it more seriously,” she said.
Mullens started to pay attention to her sleep patterns after she noticed physical changes to her body.
“By the end of my sophomore year, I felt sluggish on most days, and I felt like I was always sleeping my Sundays away trying to catch up,” she said.
Mullens said students that figure that out sooner are only helping themselves in the future.
“Love your body, take naps, and get solid eight hours when possible,” she said. “We’re all busy but your future self will thank you if you just make it work.”
Email Madison Winters at email@example.com