Why Sleep

The average young adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep on a nightly basis, but it's important to remember that every body is unique. To perform well in your academic work, you must focus on creating the best possible learning environment. This means making sure you are getting enough sleep and taking care of yourself. You might be getting enough hours to get by for a few days, but it will catch up to you and affect your learning and memory. Think of regular sleep as an essential tool that allows you to recharge and be more focused, alert, and healthier. 

Does Your Body Need More Rest?

If a significant number of the statements below are true for you, you may want to consult the Student Wellness Center, the Academic Skills Center, or the Counseling Center about improving your sleep habits.

  1. It takes you at least an hour to fall asleep every night of the week.
  2. You can't get out of bed when the alarm sounds.
  3. You worry about getting enough sleep most nights of the week.
  4. When you wake up in the night, you can't get back to sleep.
  5. You use sleeping pills or alcohol to help you sleep.
  6. You feel exhausted from lack of sleep.
  7. You sleep in or take daytime naps to make up for lack of sleep.
  8. You get drowsy during the day, or need caffeine to stay alert.

Causes of Sleep Problems


  • Poor Sleep Habits. An irregular bedtime, frequent naps, late-night activities, or weekend sleeping-in can scramble your body’s normal sleep/wake schedules. Insufficient and poor quality sleep often becomes a mosaic of cause and effect cemented by habit.
  • Emotional Stress. Emotional stress accounts for more than 50% of chronic sleep problems. Early morning wake-up is typical of depression, while feelings of anxiety strike at bedtime. Major stress can start insomnia or cause excessive fatigue. And sleep difficulties that begin with a single incident may linger long after the stress is resolved.
  • Physical Illness. Physical disorders are also important to consider as sources of sleep difficulties. Illness and accompanying symptoms such as pain, nausea, and shortness of breath often disturb sleep patterns.
  • Diet and Exercise Habits. Alcohol or caffeine near bedtime can have negative effects on one’s sleeping patterns. A large meal or strenuous exercise close to bedtime can temporarily boost the body’s metabolism, chasing away sleep. 

Additional Resources


  • Current Concepts: The Sleep Disorders. By Peter Hauri, The Upjohn Company, 1977
  • Consumer Reports, March 1997, "The Search for a Good Night's Sleep"
  • New York Times, October 31, 1996, "For Teen-Agers, Too Much to Do, Too Little Time for Sleep," p. C2
  • USA Weekend, January 3-5, 1997, "How to Sleep Like a Baby"
  • FOCUS, February 1997, "The Scoop on Sleep"