Ralph Copeland, a student at the University of South Florida, can’t remember the last time he slept for a full eight hours.
Copeland juggles school, work and his fraternity, lessening the amount of time he sleeps per night.
“Not getting enough sleep is starting to catch up with me,” Copeland said. “I tend to find myself falling asleep in class. I don’t have enough energy when I work out and I am always cranky and moody. Because of this, I am hooked on Red Bull and five hour energy drinks. Each night I may only sleep 3-4 hours, and if I’m lucky I can squeeze in a 30-minute power nap during the day.”
According to Lani Steffens, USF’s Mental Health Promotion Specialist, college students are among the most sleep deprived groups in the country.
A survey held by the USF Counseling Center found that having problems sleeping is the third most common reason students visit the Counseling Center. The survey also found that about 53 percent of those students report not being able to sleep.
Steffens is a part of Wellness USF, a marketing group that consists of five departments within the university. The group works together to promote wellness education among the student population. Their most recent promotion was educating students on the importance of sleep.
“Are you getting any?” was the name of the message campaign held by Wellness USF.
“We wanted to remind students that you need to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night,” Steffens said. “Sleep is one of the first things people dismiss because of the time crunch, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself well.”
Not getting enough sleep, also known as chronic sleep deprivation, consists of the same symptoms as Attention Deficit Disorder. “It connects because people are having trouble focusing, they find trouble focusing, they tend to be jittery, they may be restless but that tends to happen when you don’t get enough sleep and your brain doesn’t function,” Steffens said.
Steffens said the most common problems that result from not getting enough sleep are: drinking caffeine energy drinks, relationship problems, depression, not exercising and staying up late.
“Go to bed at an appropriate time, use your bed only for sleep and to have sex, make sure your room is at a cool temperature and also you can try taking a hot bath,” Steffens said.
The USF Counseling Center plans to hold a workshop next semester geared towards educating students on the importance of sleep.