REM cycles are responsible for a refreshing sleep

College students seem to be suffering with sleep problems. (Daniela Sanchez/Lariat)

College students seem to be suffering with sleep problems. (Daniela Sanchez/Lariat)

College is full homework, coffee and late nights, resulting in a lack of sleep. Students average 6-6.9 hours of sleep per night, according to the University Health Center at the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, Saddleback College students are no stranger to this nightmare.

“I usually sleep at about 1 o’clock in the morning,” said Saddleback business and communications major Yessenia Ozuna. “I usually take a shower and I feel refreshed ready for the day. That wakes me up immediately.”

Ozuna sleeps an average of five hours per night, three to four hours less than the recommended amount for students. Sleep schedules and time management are the main factors that influence how college students sleep on a regular basis, according to HealthResearchFunding.org.

Only 11 percent of students sleep well, with 40 percent feeling getting the full rest needed two days a week, according to a sleep study conducted by Walter C. Buboltz, Jr., found that of sleep affects abilities to think and remember, which are extremely important for class.

It is not only a lack of sleep that is hurting students, but bad timing, said Saddleback psychology instructor Kris Leppien-Christensen. He recommends waking up during the the fifth stage of sleep, called the Rapid Eye Movement cycle.

“The typical cycle of sleep is 90-100 minutes or so,” Leppien-Christensen said. “Let’s say your 90 minute cycle would end at 6:30 a.m. You could be better off getting up at 6:30 a.m. feeling more awake than 7 o’clock.”

Leppien-Christensen said the body is totally relaxed during the REM state, but one’s brain is as active as during waking consciousness, giving people the ability to dream. Depending on how much work student are taking on during the semester, it might be tempting to get less rest to accomplish more, but according Leppien-Christensen, sacrificing sleep actually hurts students in the long run.

“Unfortunately that’s the thing, we think [sleep] is the easiest to give up right if we have school and work we can’t give those up so we cut out what’s easiest,” Leppien-Christensen said.

Saddleback computer science major Jose Cardenas is one student who plans out his sleep habits. Cardenas has created his own sleep schedule that works for him while still going to sleep at midnight.

“I have an alarm [set] for every thirty minutes,” Cardenas said. “The earliest I wake up is at 5:30 a.m. for my class that starts at 8:30 a.m. because I study before.”

While 90 minutes is the test proven duration for a complete cycle, it is important to note that everyone’s sleep cycle differs. Because natural sleep rhythms are based on the individual, it is important to be aware of your own natural sleep rhythm.

Leppien-Christensen recommends that you need to become your own scientist by finding out your natural sleep cycle duration. He says not to test yourself when you are exhausted, but when naturally tired. Time yourself from when you start sleeping until you naturally wake up in the middle of the night. Then, you can use the time duration to your advantage by customizing your alarm to that specific time.

He also recommends avoiding the use of electronics prior to sleep. The blue light that is emitted can often trick the brain into staying up longer, disrupting your natural sleeping time.

How are you sleeping?

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