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Anna Schultz / Her Campus

The College Slumber Paradox: Why College Students Sleep More Than Ever

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

In high school, I was a cheerleader who also worked a part-time job and was a part of many other extracurriculars. I’d get up at 5:00 a.m. for practice, go to school, have afternoon practice, go to work, get home at 11:00 p.m., stay up and do homework until 1:00 a.m., and repeat the cycle every day. I was able to do all of this without ever needing a nap in between. Fast forward to my college years, and this narrative has changed dramatically. Now, with just one class at 11:00 a.m., I find myself returning to my room and succumbing to a nap until 5:00 p.m. But I know I’m not going through this alone. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed among many of my fellow college students as well, and I’m sure you’re currently going through it as well! What’s causing this shift from high school, where sleep seemed like a luxury, to college, where it’s almost a necessity? Let’s delve into some of the reasons behind this intriguing transformation.

Changing Schedules:

In college, students often have more flexibility in their schedules. Unlike the rigid structure of high school, where early morning classes were the norm, college students may have later classes or gaps in their schedules that allow for daytime napping. Personally, I find myself barely able to make it to my 11:00 a.m. class at times!

Academic Demands:

College coursework is typically more demanding and rigorous than high school, requiring students to invest more time in studying and completing assignments. The increased academic pressure can lead to prioritizing sleep as a way to improve focus and academic performance. So if anything, don’t feel bad for taking that nap- you’ve earned it!

Irregular Sleep Patterns:

The college experience often involves irregular sleep patterns. Late-night study sessions or socializing can disrupt sleep, prompting students to compensate with daytime naps. I’ve always been a night owl but ever since arriving at college, it’s gotten so much worse! I find myself snoozing during the day, and tackling all of my assignments at night. 

Social Factors:

College is a time for social exploration and engagement, often leading to late-night activities and gatherings. The desire to recover from these late nights can result in longer periods of sleep during the day. I’ll admit, I’ve come home at 4:00 a.m. on nights that I had 8:00 a.m. classes the next day. Although staying out is all a part of the college experience, we need to be aware of the potential consequences and make sure we allocate time for our bodies to recover.

Catching Up on Sleep Debt:

Many students arrive at college with a backlog of sleep debt accumulated during high school. The college experience provides an opportunity to address this deficit and establish healthier sleep habits. As I mentioned earlier, I was basically a robot in high school. Whenever I feel guilty about the amount I’ve been sleeping in college, I remind myself that I deserve it. With four years of absolute non-stop grinding, there’s no reason why I should feel guilty about granting myself a break. And you shouldn’t either!

Ultimately, understanding the reasons behind this phenomenon can help college students make informed decisions about their sleep habits and prioritize their overall well-being. So, whether you’re a college student who’s suddenly craving midday naps or someone intrigued by this sleep paradox, know that you’re not alone in this journey!

Achiraya, also known as Raya, is an associate editor at the Her Campus at the University of Texas at Austin chapter. Raya is currently pursuing a journalism degree with a minor in law at the University of Texas at Austin. From an early age, Achiraya has had a profound love for the written word. The art of storytelling, be it through articles, essays, or creative pieces, has consistently been her passion and source of solace.