Sleep Debt


College students are not only in debt due to loans and credit card bills, but many hours of sleep deprivation are also building up a tab.

At the end of the semester, with papers due and finals to study for, sleep is often the last priority for students.

"If the average daily amount of sleep needed by an individual is eight hours, sleeping six hours a night for one week will create a sleep debt of fourteen hours,” said Dr. William C. Dement of Stanford University to the National Sleep Foundation. “The larger the sleep debt, the stronger the tendency to fall asleep at any particular moment while we are awake."

Dement says that students are among the biggest groups of sleep deprived people.

Staying up late and having to wake up early proves to be a problem for Malik Powell, a junior accounting major at Morehouse College.

“I always end up pushing everything until later in the evening, after my two hour nap, and then I regret it in the morning when it’s time to wake up,” he said.

Postponing activities until the evening time often prevent students from turning in early. Studying, watching television, surfing the Internet, and often times talking with friends takes away from hours of sleep.

“I get about five to eight hours of sleep a night, take naps everyday up to two hours, and I still feel tired everyday,” said Stephanie Billops, a sophomore curriculum and instruction major at Texas Southern University.

In relation to sleep deprivation, some students have also resorted to using prescription drugs to stay awake. Adderall, the drug used to aid children with ADHD, can help a student study for twelve hours without fatigue, according to a study by the University of Michigan in January 2005.

Three students in this study were from HBCUs and reported the lowest rate of non-medical prescription drug use to stay awake.