Sometimes I find myself daydreaming in class and am snapped back to reality by the muffled sound of another student’s snoring. Sleep is what happens before, during and after classes – and sometimes not at all. Everyday a couch or chair in the Student Center is a bed for a sleeping commuter. Then there are the universities that decided to take action to improve students’ sleeping patterns.
Recently, Duke University announced the elimination of 8 a.m. classes to allow sleep-deprived students more time to be awake for class. But they are keeping 8:30 a.m. classes. Progress only occurs one step at a time. Duke has followed in the lead of many high schools and universities that pushed back its starting time because students were too tired to perform at their potential.
The avoidance of early classes and overcrowding of class between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. also affected Duke’s decision. This scenario appears to be common at Temple as well. Early morning and late afternoon classes fill up first, which leaves the infamous 8:40 classes and night classes for those who register later.
Simply reading the drastic range of class times in the fall course schedule is sleep-inducing. Three kinesiology recitations are scheduled to start at 7:10 a.m. I’m not sure who to feel more sorry for – the teaching assistant or the students in the class. Commuters with classes starting at 8:40 a.m. or earlier often wake up between the early hours of 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. in order to get to class on time. Students who work during the day or simply get shut out of all other classes have the option of several courses from 7:25 p.m. to 9:55 p.m. Having classes officially end at 9:55 p.m. sounds more reasonable than having them end at 10 p.m., after all.
At a University of Michigan conference on sleep, stress, depression and college students, last month, it was announced that college students sleep an average of six to seven hours a night, down from seven to seven and a half in the 1980s. There were also the obvious facts that sleep deprivation hurts academic performance and increases stress levels.
The lifestyles of college students make irregular sleeping patterns regular. We are more likely to stay up late on weekdays and sleep late on weekends. During midterms and finals, all-nighters are the norm.
Power naps are essential for students to quickly rest and energize themselves – provided they don’t happen in class. Remember, the chairs and couches around campus are there for a reason.
Stephanie Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.