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Effects of Sleep Deprivation on College Students

College students generally have a lot on their plate. Resisting the urge to stay at home and catch up on much needed sleep, they go out with friends or force themselves to work on term papers, book reports, and other school work. Students opt for coffee to ward off sleep when they need to stay up late.

It is not uncommon for a sleep-deprived student to get low marks in his classes because one of the effects of sleep deprivation is a decrease in attention and concentration which greatly affects learning. Students are also left feeling sluggish which leads to low performance at school. People need to get six to eight hours of sleep in order for them to go about their tasks properly. Not getting ample rest leads to low productivity levels; and in the case of students, low or satisfactory marks in tests, term papers, and class participation.

Apart from attention and learning deficit, students become more irritable when they lack sleep. Deprivation of sleep also causes weight gain in some people because it affects the hormones in charge of the metabolism. During sleep, sugar and starch is burned in a person's system to become energy. Staying up prevents this process and rather than turning sugar and starch into energy, they are stored as fat.

Long term effects of sleep deprivation include: heart attack, high blood pressure, depression and other mood disorders, and obesity.

Experts advise students to take cat naps or power naps during their breaks to restore energy and attentiveness. It is also beneficial to take naps in between writing tasks like term papers, dissertation, and written reports to avoid burnout. It is important to note, however, that naps must not exceed 20 or 30 minutes in a day. Taking a nap for too long may affect the natural sleeping pattern of a student.

To battle difficulty sleeping, it is advised not to drink caffeinated drinks beyond 4pm. If a person prefers to exercise in the evening, he or she must do so three hours before he or she retires.

Brian A. Richter, Ph.D., specializes in Sleep Medicine, a subspecialty of medicine that deals with sleeping disorders and disturbances.His term paper works deals with his studies.