Student Life

College Nights

By Jay Simpson, Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Where does this feeling come from? An inaudible explosion between the ears, walls squeezing rapidly closer, vision blurred by dry tears; Stress, the invisible predator, can destroy potential success if one lacks a coping mechanism. Modern studies have suggested that stress induced factors affect the sleep cycle, biological clock, and achievement potential of college students.

The California Aggie recently reported, “stress has a much more significant impact on sleep quality than other factors, such as alcohol consumption or late night electronic usage.” Consensus amongst professionals states a small amount of stress is healthy, but the inability to manage stress has lasting negative effects. Humans vastly differ in remedying stress. Some will listen to music, others will exercise and many turn to substances. Logical wariness asks, would it be better to ingest a substance or use an electronic device to alleviate stress impacting sleep quality?

According to the John Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, “the bright light of a computer screen can alter the body’s biological clock and suppress the natural production of melatonin, a hormone in the body that regulates sleeping and waking hours.” Many electronic devices emit a blue light that triggers the mind to stay awake. Therefore unwinding from a stressful day with an electronic device will keep your mind awake longer to reflect on life’s struggles.

One anonymous UC Davis student proclaimed the lone motivating determiner in his success was cannabis. Supposedly used as positive reinforcement, the student would study for two hours, rewarded themselves with a couple puffs, and go to sleep. Smoking some herbs alleviated this student’s stress, which was causing sleeplessness and impeded productivity.

There are many cases debating the enhancement of learning through substances. Adderall, dubbed “the Straight ‘A’ Pill”, has been know to give students the mental ability to stay focused for longer periods of time, improving some students’ productivity. Yet, one of the major side effects of this magic pill is anxiety and sleep deprivation.

Contradictions exist in the argument of enhancing student potential, but professionals agree that obtaining a healthy amount of sleep is the best indicator of college success. With one-third of college students staying up to 3 a.m. at least once a week and 63 percent of college students not getting enough sleep, it’s no surprise current research discovered this nugget: After a student performs at their top potential for a week and rewards themselves to a party on the weekend, they lose 30 percent of the information learned during the prior 7 days of studying.

Does this mean that college must be all work and not play? Absolutely not, the key is making sure the chosen stress management strategy isn’t impeding on receiving a sufficient amount of sleep. Everybody needs to let loose and have some fun, but if your roommate is talking to ‘shadow people’ please tell them to take a nap.



The New Student Union is an online magazine run by and for college students covering the issues we care about. Self-starters with great communication skills and a passion for writing should email to get involved. Official site will launch in late 2011.


One thought on “College Nights

  1. Excellent writing.

    Posted by Gianna Albaum | September 7, 2011, 12:35 am

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