One of the biggest struggles you may face in college is getting the right amount of sleep. This could be due to partying, all-nighters, and stress. Or it could stem from the unhealthy lifestyle that leads students to challenge the idea that there is a “proper” amount of sleep.
Research has shown that students who get 6 or fewer hours of sleep have a lower GPA than those who get 8 or more. Luckily, there are several proven ways to balance college life and proper sleep. Consider the following healthy habits to promote a good night’s rest.
Create a Sleep Schedule
The key to consistent sleep is a sleep schedule. Having a nightly routine is important for maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm, so going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning is ideal. As juvenile as it sounds, having a bedtime routine is an easy way to gain structure in your nightly routine.
Think of sleep as an essential component to your day rather than a luxury or burden. Enforce this by setting a bedtime for yourself and doing your best to abide by it, even on weekends or busy days. Try it for a week and see what happens – you may find that sacrificing that late night party is worth it!
Here are some other ways to enforce a consistent bedtime:
- Make those you live with aware of your bedtime and ask that they respect your desire to create a routine.
- Ensure that homework, housework, personal hygiene, are taken care of on-time.
- Make preparations for the next day, so you are ready to wake up and get going the next day.
Turn Off Screens
Electronics can affect your sleep tremendously. In short, social media and sleep don’t mix well. Our devices are usually used to stimulate the mind, even as a means of relaxation. With something to occupy ourselves, our brains will put sleep off in favor of whatever has our attention. Your devices can also cause delays in your body’s internal clock when used before bed due to the light that the screens emit.
Turn off devices about an hour before bed. This means phones, TVs, tablets, etc. Interacting with devices too close to your bedtime will be counterproductive and will only mean you’ll be awake for longer while waiting for your brain to transition from screen time to bedtime.
Avoid Eating Before Bed
You might think eating before bed helps you fall asleep, but this is not always true. While there are some foods that contain sleep-inducing chemicals, eating before bed will generally keep you awake. Digestion and other functions that come with it can prolong wakefulness and disrupt your sleep patterns, keeping you awake as your body sorts itself out. Nutritionists recommend eating your last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime, as this is how long it will take for your body to complete the necessary functions before you can sleep soundly.
Late-night eating will not only affect your sleeping schedule but your eating schedule as well. Snacking too much before bed will make you less hungry in the morning, possibly causing you to skip breakfast and in turn, make you rely on that before bed snack again. Limit yourself to small snacks to ensure you’re eating the right three meals a day.
TIP: Not all foods are bad for sleep. If you want some ideas for light sleep-inducing snacks, see Medical News Today’s article, “Which foods can help you sleep?”
Put an End to All-Nighters
While it might feel like all-nighters are a viable option, they do more harm than good. All-nighters can cause sleep deprivation, which seems par for the course, but can cause more problems than it solves. Cramming and all-nighters will more negatively affect academic performance, sleep deprivation inducing memory loss and concentration problems, and rendering the all-nighter pointless in the long run. In fact, 1 in 4 students reported that sleep deprivation negatively impacted their grades and in some cases, resulted in the need to withdraw from a course.
End the cycle of all-nighters by taking the time to complete work and study before the due date. Find time in your days to complete work and refresh your memory without cutting into your much-needed sleep. You can complete projects and essays in one go, or bits at a time over the course of the allowed timeline, but make sure you work around your sleep schedule!
TIP: Want to improve your study skills? Check out our post, “Healthy Studying Habits,” to learn more about studying without falling into bad habits
Address Health Problems
While external outside factors are vital in developing a healthy sleeping schedule, internal factors should be taken into consideration as well. Healthy sleep can only come to a healthy person. Physical or mental health issues can inhibit your ability to sleep and affect many parts of your daily life if left unaddressed.
If you suspect you suffer from a condition that negatively affects how you sleep, consult your primary care provider. This includes sleep disorders, mental health conditions, and physical complications.
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