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8B - The Michigan Daily - Wekend IMagmue - Thursday, November 13, 2003
The Michigan Daily- Wcekcad Ma0zinc
The I chII n Da Vily - f 1 nd .LYUMIl YLin
Stress nothing to lose sle
By Neal Pais u Daily Arts Writer
lertness aids" seem to be the
rage on campus these days.
With everything from energy
drinks to Adderalls, University students
are pushing the limits of their studying
capabilities. Sacrificing sleep for the
promise of stronger academic results,
these individuals don't quit until they
"crash" the next day.
Endemic to America's institutions of higher learning, this
trend is disturbing because of the implications it has for the men-
tal well-beings of this nation's college students.
It has been said that in college, when it comes to grades, fun
and sleep, you can only have two. From an informal survey of
virtually any college campus, it's evident that students usually
opt for the first two upon hearing the classic maxim.
"My sleeping patterns are very inconsistent; I either get a lot
(of sleep), or none at all," said LSA senior Pamela Itzkowitch.
"It's mostly due to my workload ... I have a full course sched-
ule. But when I get a decent amount of sleep, I'm a lot more
functional;' Itzkowitch added.
LSA senior Daniel Rieger admitted, however, that his lack of
sleep comes from slightly different source: "It's mainly from
partying," he said. "I'm so busy during the week, I just have to
release on the weekends. I just end up not getting any sleep dur-
ing these times."
People may lose sleep for a variety of reasons, whether it is
from academic stress or an unusual lifestyle. Yet, whatever the
case may be, both the bookworms and the revelers place them-
selves at risk for an assortment of serious health problems with
every sleepless night they accrue.
The effects of sleep deprivation may be manifested through a
number of negative physical responses. In an exhausted body,
the eyes lose their ability to focus properly; muscle strength
becomes sharply reduced when the metabolism slows down.
Consequently, basic motor skills become impaired, the degree
correlated to the amount of regular sleep that is lost. Lack of
sleep also results in a compromise of the immune system, ren-
dering the non-sleeper susceptible to infections. Moreover, long-
term sleeplessness may cause severe gastrointestinal problems,
as the body forces itself to adjust to a foreign schedule.
Sleep deprivation also takes a significant toll on the emotion-
al stability of a person. Recent studies suggest that sleep depri-
vation can be linked to the aggravation of clinical depression.
Stress, anxiety, general mental duress all may perpetuate insom-
nia, yet they may also precipitates chronic sleeplessness; the
progression of emotional side effects is circular in this way.
"The risk for psychiatric disorders such as depression is
increased ... in the short term, people with insomnia describe
moodiness, irritability, difficultly with concentration and just
plain feeling lousy," said Ronald Chervin, director of the
University's Sleep Disorders Laboratory.
An excessive denial of sleep will even result in very grave
psychological repercussions. The New England Journal of
Medicine has definitively linked fatigue to automobile acci-
dents; many researchers agree that a night of lost sleep is equiv-
alent in its effects on the central nervous system as one or two
In Britain, several recent studies have alarmingly concluded
that long-term sleep deprivation can result in borderline retarda-
tion, with every hour of sleep lost translating into a temporary,
one-point drop in the IQ of the individual.
There are several different treatments for sleeplessness, each
one depending on the causes and severity of the case. A phar-
macological approach is most frequently used for serious but
short-term insomnia. There are several pills on the market that
can be used to combat insomnia. Most of these are benzodi-
azepines - a class of drugs prescribed for their tranquilizing,
sedative and anti-anxiety effects. However, drugs of this catego-
ry are extremely addictive physiologically, and should be used
with prudence and caution.
Non-benzodiazepine prescription sleep aids like Ambien and
Avoid working and eating before going to bed.
Sonata do exist, yet these pills are also habit-forming, making it
potentially difficult for users to adopt a natural sleep cycle after
Actual medical treatment is also a helpful solution for insom-
nia. Usually employed in cases of acute, chronic insomnia, psy-
chological counseling and behavioral therapy, physicians seek to
find the underlying causes behind a patient's inability to sleep.
Physicians may often find psychological and/or neurological
trauma to be the root of sleepless, making it easier to continue
with a suitable plan of action.
"The first thing we do (at the Neurology Department) is diag-
nose the insomnia, which is a complaint, not a specific disor-
der," Chervin said. "Once we know what is causing the insom-
nia, we can usually plan an effective treatment approach."
An alternative method - which can and should be insti-
tuted in addition to others - is the practice of "sleep
hygiene." Advocated by Prof. Henry Olders, a prominent
sleep researcher at McGill University, sleep hygiene involves
a regimented sleep plan of sorts. It involves environment
controls, such as adjusting the bedroom's levels of noise,
light and climate. In addition, it calls for the suspension of
nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and exercise three hours before the
Many doctors also advise against taking long naps during the
day. The National Sleep Foundation stresses the fact that naps
longer than 10 to 15 minutes make it difficult to fall asleep at
night - the time of day that sleep is most critical. Many stu-
dents believe that regular napping compensates for pulled all-
nighters, yet the opposite is true. Naps disrupt the normal sleep
schedule, making students accustomed to a false, choppy and
inadequate space of sleep time. If you're tired during the day,
you're just going to
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For the best advice on how to cope with sleep problems, students should contact either UHS or Counseling and PsychologIcal ServIces-.