How much sleep do college students need

Over the course of a semester, I have many opportunities to talk to students. When I ask them how they are, they often say that they are fine. The second most common response is, “Sleepy.”

They sleep in class. They sleep between classes. They sleep on the buses and trains on the way to and from school. They are a sleepy bunch

When I think about my college lifestyle, I was a sleepy person, too. Nodding off in class, sleeping in a chair in the student lounge. There was a reason for that, too. When I was sleep deprived because of working late and then studying later, I was in poor shape for classes the next day.

This is what I learned about sleep as a student*

  • I need kind of a lot as an individual.
  • I cannot work nights and be fresh the next day for class.
  • It is not worth working nights and going to class the next day.

So I took some time off from school, worked, and saved up money for the next semester. It took me 8 years to finish undergrad and grad school, but I found that I had to get all my stuff done by 10pm, get 8 hours of sleep, and get up for early classes the next morning, because mornings were the best time for me to learn.

My students don’t get enough sleep. I know that from hearing their experiences. According to the OECD, Japan get’s the least sleep per person of any other member state.

My question has always been, “How much sleep do we need”? It turns out that needs vary by age and by individual, but for my students, 7 hours a night is a must. Though many of my students say that they get 6 hours of sleep per night, many studies use 6 hours of sleep as a standard for the sleep-deprived population.

Here is an easy-to-read graphic on sleep by the National Sleep Foundation in the US.


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