Home News Stress at school keeps students wide awake

Stress at school keeps students wide awake

by Archives November 30, 2005

TORONTO (CUP) — Tamara Lang, 18, has spent many a night staring at her ceiling.

Burdened by the anxieties of first-year university life at Ryerson, the student said falling asleep, and getting enough when her eyes finally close, is proving to be a challenge.

“My brain just doesn’t stop working,” said Lang, who, like many of her university peers, is currently in the midst of writing final papers and studying for exams. “I’ve once lied in bed for two hours because I couldn’t sleep. Then I went back downstairs to go on MSN.”

Lang is not alone in her nightly battles with the pillow. Getting little or no Zs has become an outright trend among Canadians, young and old.

A recent study by Statistics Canada reveals one in seven Canadians 15 years or older have trouble falling asleep and getting enough shut eye when they finally enter dreamland, suggesting they suffer from insomnia.

One-quarter of the people surveyed in the study cited life stress as a reason for their sleep deprivation.

According to Dr. EeVon Ling, a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor, university students – especially first-year students – are susceptible to insomnia because of drastic lifestyle changes and the new pressures that can accompany post-secondary life.

“Stress and anxiety can definitely play a part,” said Ling, who has treated numerous university students suffering from insomnia at the Pacific Wellness Institute, a downtown clinic specializing in alternative medicine.

“Modern life is very stimulus-filled,” she added. “We’ve got images thrown at us all the time. We have televisions, computers, we’re trying to listen to music, we’ve got papers, and we’ve got deadlines to meet. We have all of these things. You’re always winding up the brain, but there are a lot of people who are not good at winding down.”

Gabe Knox, 22, also a first-year student, can attest to that.

“I can’t go to bed early. My body won’t just let me fall asleep,” the student complained. Knox said he usually gets about six hours of sleep a night, which is far below the national average of seven and a half.

According to Ling, students who take more than an hour to fall asleep or wake up intermittently during sleep can be safely classified as insomniacs.

The doctor said the problem for students can be commonly traced to their pre-sleep routine, or lack thereof. Students, she said, frequently hit a roadblock when they hit the bed immediately after doing something mentally taxing, such as studying.

“With students for example, you’re living in residence and doing your homework, when you immediately try to roll over and fall asleep,” Ling said. “You should have some sort of routine – a pre-sleep routine, or what they say is good sleep hygiene.”

To help avoid fits of sleeplessness, Ling advised students to spend at least an hour winding down before hitting the hay, avoiding heavy meals and strenuous activity in the process.

Doing light exercises before bedtime, such as yoga and stretching, can also help students grab a good night’s rest, said Ling.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment