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Seven Ways Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Negatively Impact Your Life as a College Student

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Seven Ways Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Negatively Impact Your Life as a College Student

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Sleep often falls by the wayside when you're a student in college. Between studying, writing papers, activities, and spending time with new friends, it's easy for time to get away from you, and before you know it, you're only getting a few hours of sleep at night.

Although it may feel like you can manage just fine with less than eight hours of shuteye each night, the fact is, a lack of sleep can negatively impact your life in many ways that include:

  • Getting into a car accident
  • Failing a big test
  • Getting sick more often
  • Strained relationships
  • Increased risk of serious long-term health problems
  • Feeling depressed
  • Bad judgement

Getting Into a Car Accident

If you drive a vehicle to class, to work, you use it to run errands, or you like to go back home, you should make sure you're getting plenty of sleep. That's because not getting enough sleep at night can increase your chances of getting into a car accident.

Studies have shown that driving while fatigued has a similar impact on driving as driving while intoxicated. It's literally like driving drunk. Not only could you damage or total your car, with repairs being nearly impossible to afford as a college student, you could also get hurt. Do yourself a favor and make sure you get plenty of sleep before you get behind the wheel.

Failing a Big Test

You aren't alone if you think the right way to study for a test is to cram the night before. It isn't uncommon for college students to stay up all night studying for a test the next day.

Cramming isn't a very effective way to learn. Instead, studies have shown that spacing out learning was more effective 90 percent of the time, even if you feel like you learn more by studying all night the night before. That's because there's a difference between what seems familiar and what you actually remember. You may recognize the terms and topics on the test, but that doesn't mean you're recalling the answers correctly.

If you want to pass that big test, it's better to start studying a little bit at a time weeks ahead of time rather than leaving it all for the night before.

Getting Sick More Often

Do you feel like you always have a cold? Or maybe you battle the flu at least once a year? It could be because you're not getting enough sleep.

Sleep greatly affects your immune system. Certain components of your immune system are able to ramp up when your body and mind are at rest, fighting off germs and reducing inflammation. If you don't get enough rest, your immune system isn't able to do its thing, which means it's much more likely for germs to take root in your body and make you sick.

Strained Relationships

Do you feel irritable? Do you snap easily, or maybe you're always worried that everyone else is always mad at you? These personality traits may not be who you are. Instead, they could come about due to not getting enough sleep.

Even if you don't notice these things about yourself, other people are sure to notice. No one wants to hang out with someone who's irritable all the time, or who always needs to be reassured that everything is okay. Over time, you may notice that your friendships and romantic relationship suffer. If you dedicate at least eight hours to sleep every night, you'll wake up feeling more like your true self, and the people closest to you will thank you.

Increased Risk of Serious Long-Term Health Problems

Not getting enough sleep has plenty of short-term effects, like feeling grouchy or failing a test, but it has plenty of long-term effects too. Especially when it comes to your health.

Some long-term health effects of not getting enough sleep include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Risk of heart disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke

Some of these effects can be reversed if you start getting enough sleep, but they can still leave a lasting impact on your body. It's much better to make sure you get enough sleep every night in the first place.

Feeling Depressed

Depression is a huge problem for a lot of young people. It can make maintaining relationships difficult, it can make going to class nearly impossible, and it generally makes life not a lot of fun to live.

Although there are many causes of depression, it turns out, not getting enough sleep at night is one of them. Without sleep, one study showed that there's a greater amygdala response when research participants are presented with emotionally negative pictures. Other areas of the brain that link with the amygdala are weaker too, which means it's more difficult to control your emotions, making it easier for depression to set in.

If you've ever felt the weight of the world after a bad night of sleep, you know how a lack of shuteye can contribute to depression. Prioritize your sleep and you'll enjoy greater mental health.

Bad Judgement

College students are known for bad judgement. Whether it's waiting to write a paper until the last minute, walking home after dark alone, or having a little too much fun at a house party, it kind of comes with the territory. Don't make it worse by not getting enough sleep.

Studies have shown that not getting sleep greatly affects judgement and decision making, especially when those judgements require the integration of emotion and cognition. You're more likely to make decisions that can affect your relationships negatively, but you're also more likely to make decisions that will make your life more difficult when you don't get enough rest at night.

It's normal to have a night here and there where sleep seems to fall by the wayside. Just don't make it a habit. If you do, you could find that it affects your life in many negative ways that you didn't anticipate.

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