Reported by Mary Beach
In the library, Michael Dashti naps. Outside Starbucks, Cindy Kao stirs her coffee. She knows that sleeping just five or six hours per night affects her schoolwork.
With school in full swing and midterms looming, most Langara students aren’t getting enough sleep, but just how much is enough and what happens when you skimp?
Wendy Hall, PhD, RN and professor of nursing at the University of British Columbia says that young adults and adolescents need nine to 10 hours of sleep per night.
“What we’re seeing is that most are getting around seven and a half, which obviously makes it harder for academic performance,” said Hall, who has been doing sleep research for more than 10 years.
When Langara student Layssa Leite stays up late studying, it’s hard for her to wake up. Even though she’s tired, she does not think it affects her relationships.
Hall said there are theories that people who do not get enough sleep are more at risk for illness and physical injury, particularly car accidents. Sleep deficits have also been linked to aggressive behavior, violence in young adults, depression and anxiety.
Those who don’t sleep enough are more vulnerable to substance abuse – caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and psychoactive drugs, Hall added.
Most of the time, Langara student Allen Ko is confident that his usual seven hours of sleep per night is enough. When he doesn’t get that he feels “dizzy and uncomfortable,” but doesn’t think it affects his schoolwork.
Awareness is critical. “Students are very aware of driving under the influence of alcohol, but they don’t realize that driving [while] sleep deprived is equivalent to driving under the influence of alcohol – it puts them at high risk for accidents,” said Hall.