sleeping through classes

Dear Alby,

Today I missed my morning classes, sleeping through several alarms. I’m going to get notes from my friends and talk to my professors about the work I missed, but this isn’t the first time it’s happened. I’m tired all the time and stressed out. What should I do? <Sleeping Through Classes>

Dear STC,

Congratulations on recognizing you have a problem. Some college students believe there’s no harm in skipping classes. However, there is a strong correlation between class attendance and earned grades. Quite simply, if you want to be in college, go to your college classes.

While the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, their study also shows wide variations in how much sleep an individual may need. Some of your peers may be fine with only 6 hours, while you find yourself craving nearly twice as much (11 hours)! Or your roommate may be sleep-deprived, needing much more than you do at this particular moment. The person who needs less may experience peer pressure to stay awake longer, compounding the problem. It’s hard to pay attention when your mind is drifting into dreamland.

If you can’t wake up when you’re supposed to, go to sleep earlier. While obvious, this solution requires examining and arranging your life accordingly. Schedule an appointment for the time you will stop looking at glowing screens. Set an alarm for when you’re going to bed. After a while, you will find yourself naturally waking up early enough. During the quiet hours of the morning, you may find that you can get more done.

My second piece of advice is also simple. Be consistent in your sleep habits. Even if you have a Mon/Wed/Fri class at 8:00am and a Tue/Thu class at 10:30am, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. You’ll throw yourself off balance if you deprive yourself of sleep some nights and try to catch up later.

You would be foolish not to drink water when you’re thirsty, or if you alternated starving and binging on food. So sleep when you’re tired, and keep a steady schedule.

As you become more attuned to your body’s needs for sleep, you might find yourself able to get by with less, either regularly or occasionally. Maybe you can even train yourself to do this. But you need to establish a firm baseline first.

Take care of yourself. <Alby>

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