As college students return to campus in the coming weeks, they'll be showered in the usual handouts of coupons, condoms and credit cards. But some schools are also giving students what a growing body of research reveals could make a huge difference in their college careers: ear plugs, sleep shades and napping lessons. College health officials are finally realizing that healthy sleep habits are a potential miracle drug for much of what ails the famously frazzled modern American college student: anxiety, depression, physical health problems and — more than most students realize — academic troubles.
Some studies have found students getting adequate sleep average a full letter grade higher than those who don't. But adolescent biorhythms make it hard enough for college students to get the sleep they need, a recommended nine hours. On top of that, campus life turns out to resemble a giant laboratory experiment designed for maximum sleep deprivation: irregular schedules, newfound freedom, endless social interaction, loud and crowded housing, late-night exercise and food washed down by booze, coffee and energy drinks.
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