Sleep Struggles

Katie Ribbens — Staff Writer

The room lights up. The sky grumbles. The students awake. While Midwest storms are legendary, their effects on sleepers are not.

It’s the start of the semester and college students are starting to feel the effects of sleep deprivation. Rachel Werkhoven, a freshman at Dordt, is no stranger to late nights with little sleep. As a firefighter, she is used to waking up at a moment’s notice to leap into action. She’s not fighting fires at Dordt, but she is fighting to finish heaps of homework and feeling the burn of tests.

“I haven’t gone to bed before three o’clock,” Werkhoven said. “And then there was Friday night where I decided to stay up all night. We ended up going to bed at eight in the morning.”

Werkhoven isn’t the only student having a hard time getting to bed at a desirable time. Freshman Alex Vaughn said he will, “eventually go to bed at 1:30 in the morning, just to wake back up at 5.”


While college is a wonderful experience, it can feel like there’s too much and too little time.

“Last year, I didn’t sleep because I had a huge fear of missing out.” Sophomore student Anika Jatho said as advise to freshman students. “I felt like I needed to be there or else I wasn’t going to enjoy the full college experience. That kind of thinking is absolutely a lie. The relationships that you have are going to last if you don’t show up for a movie.”

Since so many events occur at night, students often use the time gaps throughout the day to catch up on sleep.

Psychology Professor Luralyn Helming disagrees with that sleep schedule. “You’d be better off at night getting your eight hours rather than trying to make up for it with naps.” She said.

If a nap is absolutely needed, Professor Helming has some tips. A short, 20-30-minute power nap prevents students from falling into a deep sleep and waking up feeling too groggy. If there is time, a 90-minute nap will allow the brain to complete a full sleep cycle, which is more beneficial when trying to catch up on sleep.

Students describe their experiences with sleep deprivation in a myriad of ways. Some, like Werkhoven, experience hallucinations after staying up for more than 48 hours. Others acknowledge they become short-tempered and feel they don’t contribute as much as they’d wish to class or their friends. In the spirit of both adopting the fullest college experience and avoiding sleep deprivation, students should develop a healthy balance of studying, social activities, and sleep.

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