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Study on Snoozing

“I like sleep, so whenever I get a chance to do it, I do,” said Megan Blocker, a sophomore

at MCLA. Her statement goes against every college stereotype, but Blocker isn’t alone.

Dr. Peggy Brooks, professor of psychology at the College and author of the sleep study

What’s Sleep Got to Do with College Life?, asserts that college students aren’t as sleep deprived

national norms suggest. The amount of sleep students receive in a two week period averages out

to 7 hours a night. “The reality is that we… actually get a little more sleep than we say we do,”

Brooks said.

MCLA students may not be getting the eight hours per night recommended by health

officials, but frightened parents can breathe a sigh of relief. Students are taking care of

themselves. Brooks reported an average weekday bedtime of 1:15 a.m. and an average wake-up

time of 8:51 a.m.

The wake-up time supported Brooks’ observations about early-morning classes. “In

general, students in 9:30 classes tend to be less focused, sleepier and have more absences than

afternoon or even 11 o’clock classes,” she said.

Though Sandra Hunt, a junior at the College, tends to enroll in early-morning classes, she

agrees with Brooks’ observations. She prefers to keep afternoons and evenings free for herself,

which means earlier classes. “I just like getting everything out of the way [but] I’m definitely

more sleepy in the morning,” Hunt said.

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Blocker prefers to be out of class by 2:00 p.m., but doesn’t think her alertness differs

from morning to afternoon. “The professor makes more of a difference than the amount of sleep

I got. Once I’m up and showered, I’m fine,” she said.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “the natural tendency for teenagers is to stay

up late at night and wake up later in the morning.” College students can design their schedules

around this natural tendency. It appears that the freedom to sleep in makes all the difference.

Brooks said that in her studies, “ college students… fare better than high school students with

regard to total amount of sleep.”

Blocker’s sleep is a top priority. “If I’m tired and have nothing to do, then my bed is very

appealing… Why waste a perfectly good chance to sleep?” she said.

If college students are getting so much sleep, why does the sleep-deprived stereotype

exist? Students may sleep at erratic hours—Brooks’ study found some students reporting wakeup

times of 5:00 p.m.—but one way or another, they are getting their sleep. Her study found that

most students catch up on their sleep on Saturdays. This finding surprised researchers, who

expected the results to follow the pattern of the general population, which sleeps latest on

Sundays. But “Friday is a big party night… and so the cumulative sleep deprivation hits

[students] harder,” Brooks said.

Although most MCLA students are not sleep deprived, getting a little more would not

hurt them. Brooks recommends a half hour nap to prepare for a test. Her research has shown that

short naps improve declarative memory, which is the part of your memory that remembers

names and dates, she said.