By Laura Hardin
Can you think back to a time when you could not fall asleep but instead find yourself staring between the ceiling and the clock, frustrated and waiting for sleep to come? For some people, this is a nightly occurrence. For many people with insomnia, your mind knows that it is tired, but your body cannot seem to sleep. To Alex Muskat ’20, it is “being really tired but wide awake at the same time.”
So, just how many college students really suffer from insomnia? According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 9.5 percent of university students across the country are diagnosed with chronic insomnia and an estimated 38.2 percent suffer from insomnia but go undiagnosed. A separate study from The US National Library of Medicine found that three out of five college students in the US suffer from chronic fatigue.
Liam Galvin ‘20, knows insomnia. “A bunch of people suffer from sleep related issues, but they do not really notice them, or they consider them to be not as big of a deal as they should. In specific, I think that a bunch of people have very unhealthy sleep schedules that lead them to binge sleeping. They push themselves not to sleep and then have to keep up with sleep debt. The issue with those kinds of habits is that they are way harder to break than any negative short-term issues that sleep debt might cause,” Galvin says.
We all know that sleep is very important, but you still may be wondering, “why should I care about my poor sleeping habits?” On February 17, Albert S. Hardy, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, gave a lecture at Saint Michael’s College on insomnia and the dangers of poor sleeping habits. He said you cannot make up for that lost time of sleep and lack of sleep can be very dangerous.
“If you are awake for 19 hours, you have the same performance behind the wheel as someone who is legally drunk,” Hardy explained during his lecture, “the cost of this to society is huge, there are over 1.2 million sleep deprivation related accidents a year.”
Cognitive abilities are not the only thing affected by sleep deprivation; cardiovascular effects from sleep deprivation are also a big problem. “During daylight savings time when we spring forward and lose an hour of sleep, 1.5 million people have a spike in heart attacks,” Hardy said. “When we gain an hour in the fall, that number falls.” Sleep deprivation can have drastic effects on your health. Seek help if you suffer from sleep deprivation. In the end, “Any medical condition that warrants accommodations can be granted, pending approval from your primary care provider,” states Damir Alisa from the Bergeron Wellness Center.