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Study: Maybe you should sleep more to improve your health

Study: Maybe you should sleep more to improve your health

Art education freshman, Mia Elizondo, falls asleep while watching movies on her laptop Sept. 2 on the fourth floor of the Union. Antonio Soresh

Study: Maybe you should sleep more to improve your health
September 05
11:03 2016

Many students equate college life with sleepless life. One attitude is that only grandpas go to bed early, while others think that staying up late makes you more creative or interesting.

Getting a good night’s sleep often comes last on the to-do list, so two UNT students are studying how skipping on sleep could have long-term negative effects on our health. Their study shows maybe grandpa knew what he was talking about.

UNT’s Insomnia Research laboratory conducted a sleep study that showed students who lack sleep have an increase in glucose levels, which can lead to health problems.

Brett Messman and Bella Scott, two undergraduate psychology students, evaluated glucose levels of 146 UNT students who kept sleep logs. The results showed students who slept fewer hours “had higher serum glucose levels than other college students, putting them at risk for possible medical problems.” Messman said that over time, high glucose levels can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other health problems.

Scott said students with insomnia may spend their nights trying to fall sleep, while students without insomnia usually stay awake by choice and stay up eating, drinking or partying.

Students who stayed up late by choice had high levels of glucose, while the students with insomnia did not.

This was because insomniac’s bodies were adjusted to a lack of sleep and no longer produced higher levels of glucose when waking up as a stress response.

The person who lacks sleep by choice has a larger stress response when they wake up, creating higher glucose levels. High glucose are levels connected with late-night munchies that go hand-in-hand with sleeping in.

Lack of sleep can give you physical problems, but can also be harmful to one’s emotional state.

“Many people who have depression or other emotional disorders have also reported having problems with their sleep,” Scott said.

Getting the right amount of sleep can not only lower glucose levels, but will increase cognitive function, consolidation of memory, motor skills, eating habits and help with mood.

“Sleep dives into almost everything in your health,” Scott said.

Messman says the next time students want to cram for that test, they would be better off getting much needed sleep. Without sleep, he says, it’s hard to retain what was learned, and the stress response of waking up makes it harder to focus.

The key is not to just sleep a long time but to get the right amount of sleep.

Scott says the right amount of sleep is around 8.4 hours, but it can vary from person to person. At younger ages, before being a full-grown adult, the need for more sleep is actually higher.

“Sleeping a long time, like nine to ten hours or more, is just as bad as sleeping too little, and is a condition called hypersomnia,” Scott said. “That’s just as bad for you as insomnia.”

Featured Image: Art education freshman, Mia Elizondo, falls asleep while watching movies on her laptop Sept. 2 on the fourth floor of the Union. Antonio Soresh

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Jonathan Lichtenwalter

Jonathan Lichtenwalter

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1 Comment

  1. Christine
    Christine March 07, 16:33

    I’m convinced that lack of sleep is one of the biggest factors in our obesity epidemic in the US. And if I had to speculate even further, I’d guess it’s because of all the screens we have in our houses running 24/7. We’ve had crappy food since forever, but it’s only been since the 80’s/90’s that people started blowing up in size. And coincidentally that’s when we’ve started getting screens and more screens, TVs, computers, cellphones, tablets…

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