According to an article written by Gemma Curtis and published Wednesday, March 3, by Dreams “On average, a person spends approximately 26 years sleeping and nearly seven years trying to get to sleep in their lifetime.” As college students, the amount and quality of sleep we get every night affects us in a myriad of ways. Adequate sleep is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as 8-10 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. However, according to an article published by the University Health Center, “Most college students get 6 - 6.9 hours of sleep per night and the college years are notoriously sleep-deprived due to an overload of activities.” The physical and mental demands of college, coupled with sleep deprivation and significant academic stressors, push students who should be thriving in a healthy learning environment closer and closer to their breaking point. 

The more apparent ways a lack of sleep negatively affects us include memory loss, stress and poor mental cognition. Insufficient rest can weaken your immune system, cause hormonal imbalances and dampen metabolic response. On the other hand, consistent, quality sleep will result in better brain function, cognitive speed and can heighten your immune system’s responses —making you more resistant to illness. 

College classes usually have start times beginning around 8 a.m. and end at varying times, sometimes as late as 9 p.m. “While most colleges have start times of around 8 a.m., the ideal start time would be more like 10 or 11 a.m. The reason: People fall into different ‘chronotypes,’ which people know as ‘early birds’ and ‘night owls.’ In this sample [of college students], night owls outnumbered early birds by far,” said Jonathan Kelley in a NPR Ed. article.

Here at MSU, classes vary widely in homework load and the ratio of hours spent studying to hours spent in class. Overall initial student aptitude for a class determines the stress and time commitment necessary. Because of this wide berth of variance, the average student taking a full credit-load will be awake studying or de-stressing late into the wee morning hours on a typical school day. Taking into account the academic work required for a postsecondary degree, as well as the rest necessary for students to study and succeed in the healthiest way possible, MSU should delay morning class start times until 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. A later start will provide students, who fall asleep in the middle of the night, between eight and nine hours of sleep per night. 

The health and wellbeing of students should always be the top priority for MSU as well as the Montana University System as a whole. Students are our future and they should be protected, given the time to rest mentally as well as physically and set up for success in the best ways MSU can fathom.