Image Credit: Lindsay Garbacik for The Campus Trainer
It can be challenging to balance exercise and sleep as a student, which can affect your health.
“I wake up at 5 a.m. and spend the day getting ready for school,” Stella Zodet said. “It is rare that I have free time. If I go to bed at 10, I get about 7 hours of sleep.” The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says adults require anywhere from 7-9 hours for optimal performance and health. Zodet, a sophomore chemistry major, doesn’t find it hard to exercise in the mornings since she splashes her face with cold water which, she feels, gives her the energy to workout.
While Zodet hasn’t had any recent injuries, she finds it harder to focus later in the day and is less willing to be active.
Sleep is an essential component of health, with a significant impact on physical development, emotional regulation, cognitive performance and quality of life, according to Dr. Yvette Rooks, the head team physician and assistant director at the University Health Center.
Exercise evidence shows that increased sleep duration and higher sleep quality in athletes are associated with improved performance and competitive success, said Rooks.
“Better sleep may reduce the risk of both injury and illness in athletes; optimizing health and enhancing performance through increased participation and training,” she said.
Alexander Zimmerman, a senior mechanical engineering major, is not as active as he was pre-COVID. He still tries to get three hours of exercise a night while getting about 7-8 hours of sleep at night.
“I usually feel more active with more sleep, but it varies a lot,” Zimmerman said.
While he is still active regardless of how much sleep he gets, Zimmerman is more willing to be active after having more sleep and is in a better mood.
“I live off-campus and go to the Armory 3-5 days a week for work as an intramural supervisor. I also go to practice for club sports about once a week, and do basic body weight exercises/stretching every once in a while.”
Because Zimmerman gets a full night of sleep, he doesn’t think that his health can improve anymore, but he thinks that if he were to consistently get less sleep he wouldn’t feel as great, physically or mentally.
A lack of sleep can cause an increased risk of injury, slower reaction time, fatigue and impaired thinking according to what Rooks says.
Rooks recommends to those who do not get enough sleep to:
Create a sleep schedule
Talk to their primary care provider about interventions