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Don’t Sleep on Getting Your Sleep

Don’t Sleep on Getting Your Sleep

Diving into Student Sleep Schedules and Burning Out 

By Jessi Vietz 

Many students find themselves sacrificing hours of sleep for academic purposes. Even when optimal levels of sleep are achieved, they wake up tired and unmotivated. Burnout should be taken more seriously now than ever as it sweeps our campuses, and here is why.  

Burnout is a term coined by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s. However, The American Psychological Association described burnout as the “physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes toward oneself and others.” [1] That sounds like the opposite of many crucial aspects to succeeding in college. [2] 

University students are among the largest populations commonly affected by burnout. With lack of sleep being one of the leading contributors to burnout symptoms, it is no wonder that many students face this additional challenge to their academic careers and mental health. 

According to a University study at Ohio State, a large number of students reported feeling burnout symptoms which include fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. These statistics increased from 40% of students to 71% of students over the course of the 2020 school year. [3] 

Sleep is crucial for repairing our central nervous system which affects not only our mental and physical health, but also the way we are able to process, interpret and store new information.  

A cross-sectional study of 214 students in India found that “poor sleep quality remains a recurring feature of student life. Not only does sleep affect cognitive processes but is also key to the recovery from stress and elimination of fatigue. Any impairment in sleep, both psychological and physical, has been implicated in an increase in burnout.” [4] 

Let’s face it, sometimes academics or other aspects of life need to take priority over sleep. Most everyone can say they have stayed up all night cramming a last-minute paper or finishing a project due the next morning. However necessary upon occasion, this might not be the best way to get things done. 

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Sleep hygiene, such as a consistent bedtime, and good study habits should be taken far more seriously in our academic circles. Burnout has specific biological signatures that mirror metabolic and inflammatory responses, leaving damage to the body that takes longer than one night’s good rest to heal.  

Researchers from Hechinger Report stated that “it’s more important than ever for faculty to be open with students about the importance of seeking mental health help.” This is especially true following recent events in our world’s history, such as the pandemic and political unrest.[5] 

The next time you consider pulling that all-nighter, take a step back and reassess how you could be doing things better. Schedule in your sleep with equal importance as scheduling your classes and avoid burnout so you can stay physically and mentally at your best. 


  1. Depression: What is burnout? (2020, June 18).  
  1. Sanchez, O. (2021, July 30). Burnout symptoms increasing among college students. The Hechinger Report.  
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Shad R., Thawani R., Goel A. (2015). Burnout and sleep quality: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based study of medical and non-medical students in India. Cureus. 7(10), 361. 10.7759/cureus.361 
  1. Sanchez, O. (2021, July 30). Burnout symptoms increasing among college students. The Hechinger Report.
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