Sleep is not optional
It may seem like there are too many things going on such as studying, working, or spending time with friends and extracurricular activities to make sleep a priority. Being a college student often becomes synonymous with lack of sleep. However, research shows consistently that sleep is not optional, but critical to remaining healthy. Lack of sleep can interfere with focus, concentration, ability to retain information, mood stability, and weaken your immune system.
How much sleep do you need?
So, how much is enough? A healthy adult will range in sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night. Maintaining consistent sleep cycles is also important, having an established routine can aid in stability.
Tips for better sleep
Try some of these tips if you are having a hard time getting enough sleep:
- Create an environment that is conducive to sleep (dark, cooler, quiet)
- Make sure you feel comfortable (comfortable blankets and pillows)
- Do not study or work in your bed as you begin to associate it with these activities rather use this area only for sleep or sex.
- Remove electronic devices from your sleep area (phones, tvs, laptops etc. give off light and stimulate the part of your brain that signals it is time to stay awake)
- If you are not able to fall asleep after around 20 min, don’t stay in bed. Get up and find an activity that will help to relax you (hot shower, listening to relaxing music).
- Don’t bring your stressors with you, if you are having a hard time letting go of worries for the next day, jot down a note to remind you of it in the morning.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol. Alcohol can often make individuals feel sleepy at first, but prevents actual REM cycle sleep often leading to inability to go back to sleep after effects have worn off.
- Try to have a consistent schedule, even on weekends where you are tempted to sleep in.
- Exercising regularly can make it easier to go to sleep, but be careful about the timing of your workout. Workouts right before bed can make it more difficult to sleep, morning and afternoon are the best times of day.
- Be cognizant of your eating schedule, eating spicy, sugary, or heavy foods before bed can make it more difficult to rest. However, sometimes a light snack can help “curb the edge” before bed time.