Students' top five health concerns


sleeping student

Just seen your child off to college? Worried about the stresses and temptations of college life?

NPR presents the top five health concerns that the president of the American College Health Association and the heads of some college health services have for students. And one of those concerns — lack of sleep — is the subject of a Huffington Post report included below.

Here’s a quick summary, but read the articles in full for a tip or two on how to deal with these issues:

1. Mental Health

“Mental health issues in a broad sense certainly remain a primary issue,” the health association president says. Stress is a biggie.

2. Alcohol

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 4 in 5 college students drink. Nearly 600,000 college students are injured while under the influence of alcohol each year.

3. Infectious Disease

Infectious disease is always a concern. There’s no particular bug of concern this year, but “exposure to other infectious illnesses — colds, upper respiratory infections, influenza” are inevitable.

Vaccines can help against some of the usual suspects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these for teens and colleges students.

4. Exercise

Weight problems are everywhere, even college campuses.

Adults should be active at least 2 1/2 hours a week. Glass says too many college kids aren’t heeding the advice and warns that college students aren’t immune to the obesity epidemic.

5. Sleep

This one is so important that I’ve included a separate Huffington Post article on it.

Only 11 percent of college students in a sample of 191 undergrads had good quality sleep, a 2001 study in the Journal of American College Health found.

Other research has found:

  • Those who get 8+ hours had the highest GPAs. 
  • Night owls who studied into the wee hours got an average GPA of about 2.5 and, as students slowly became early birds, their GPAs increased all the way to a 3.5.
  • Almost a third of college students surveyed had at least one sleep disorder — such as insomnia, extremely late sleep habits or sleep apnea. GPA scores lower than 2.0 were more likely to be those of students with at least one sleep disorder.