To start off, take a second and try to recall how many times you have been annoyed by someone complaining about how late they were up studying the night before (if you can actually count that high let me know because you deserve a medal). The bottom line is that college students generally get less than six hours of sleep when they should get nine, no surprises there (Maas, 1999).
Previously, I had always assumed that when you were asleep, you were asleep, but I was fascinated to learn that is not the case. In order to feel truly rested, we must experience at least several cycles of delta sleep, which takes about 10 to 30 minutes to set in. So, while the naps students squeeze in between, or during, classes might sound appetizing, they generally won't do a whole lot of good without a solid night of delta, or deep, sleep.
A very common response to this lack of sleep is sleeping in on the weekends. However, with a somewhat alarmingly high percentage of college students that abuse alcohol, about 31%, this may not be effective (Knight et al., 2002). Even minor alcohol use before bed suppresses delta sleep. So, although many students are able to sleep longer on the weekend, it may not even help with the midday drowsiness.
This chapter shoots down one of college students' favorite misconceptions. That quick naps can make up for a legitimate night's sleep. Although a few "all-nighters" won't hurt you much, it is important to remember to keep track of those precious hours of sleep and make sure that you make time for a good, full night of sleep.