The typical student lifestyle of late nights and lots of partying may not only make us tired and hungover, but could pose some worrying health risks. Researchers at the University of Warwick claim that having less than six hours sleep a night increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Professor Francesco Cappucio from the University of Warwick’s Medical School says: “If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep, you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying of a stroke.”
Researcher, Dr Michelle Miller, points out other risks of sleep deprivation: “Chronic short sleep produces hormones and chemicals in the body which also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and cholestrol, diabetes and obesity.”
Finding a work-play balance can be difficult for students, who can often lack sleep for a variety of reasons. From the party-hard culture of first year to the dissertation and deadlines stresses of third year, the university lifestyle can throw our body clocks into disarray. Late nights combined with 9am lectures inevitably result in a lack of sleep, which could be more dangerous than we realise.
However, the research is based upon a regular lack of six hours sleep a night, so it seems that the odd all-nighter won’t pose a serious health risk.
But if university is meant to be the best years of our lives, should we really be worrying about getting enough sleep? Most students are more concerned with socialising, drinking and generally enjoying their time at university, not sleeping it all away. I spoke to some students to find out how feasible it is to get the recommended six to eight hours sleep per night, whilst being at university.
One student said: “With the demands of third year, I am finding that I am getting less sleep but I need those late nights to keep up with the work.” Although this is understandable, perhaps sleep deprivation can be avoided by a simple re-structuring of time management.
Aside from the work pressures of our studies, the social side of university often prevents students from maintaining regular sleep patterns. Another student commented: “Students can sometimes be under a lot of pressure to socialise to avoid missing out on the university experience.” Socialising is a key aspect of university life but this research implies that perhaps students should curtail their social lives to ensure that they are regularly getting enough sleep.
As well as being relevant to students, the research comes as a warning to all those who have demanding lives. Students graduating this year will hopefully find jobs, which could require late nights and early starts. This research highlights the vital importance of having enough sleep, not only to avoid feeling tired in lectures, but to decrease the chances of developing fatal health problems.