Unfortunately, the amount of college students that get less than 8 hours a sleep of night is constantly increases and that is not okay. Don’t get me wrong, I have pulled my fair share of ECL all nighters, studying late nice in dungeon-like basement dorms, and 5am wake up calls after going to bed at 3am. It seems like it is apart of college to have nights like this several times a semester. It doesn’t have to be, or at least doesn’t have to be so often. Sleep is crucial to getting good grades, staying healthy, and decreasing stress. Cramming for an exam, finishing a paper, or even just late night binge watching Netlix are very important to cut out of your routine to better your mental health and improve your sleep.
According to Dr. Lawrence Epstein, medical director of Sleep HealthCenters, sleep deprivation affects not only the way students perform in class, but also how well they perform on exams, and keeping healthy. I am writing to you as a student who experienced every side effect of sleep deprivation my Freshman year. Adjusting to college is HARD. Having a roommate, or in my case three roommates, can make it extremely challenging to go to bed at a reasonable hour. After several nights of bad sleep, it did not take me long to wake up with a scratchy throat and an achy body making it even harder for me to study, than just being exhausted. Studies show that “after two weeks of sleeping less than six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 straight hours” (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2007).
Is it even possible to get a good night sleep in college?
Try out some of these tips to get a better night sleep TONIGHT
1. Avoid coffee past noon
If you are fortunate enough to get in bed at a reasonable hour, don’t let that cup of coffee you had at 2pm keep you up at night. Sometimes you need that extra boost of energy but that Venti coffee from Starbucks is not that answer. Try green tea, it can have 24 to 40 mg of caffeine which is less than half of what is found in coffee. You can get this at ECL and carrier, without having to sacrifice a great night sleep. Black tea, and even bottled iced teas are also a good pick-me-up option if you are in a jam!
2. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it.
This can be very hard to do in college but it is important to try! If possible, try to be consistent with your class schedule. Waking up at the same time every day can be very good for your body because you will feel less tired. Not have those “earlier” days will make it seem less hard to wake up. Time management is extremely important. If you know you have that killer presentation on Thursday, start working on it in bits and pieces starting Monday. You will be able to get a better night sleep, and perform better without staying up late the night before.
3. Put laptops away at least 30 mins away before bed.
Watching TV right before bed is never a good idea. Not only does looking at a screen make it harder to fall asleep, but it also effects how tired and alert you are the next day. This is a very easy habit to break. Dive into an easy, engaging book that can relax your mind the same way binging on Gossip Girl does. Reading a book stimulates your mind before bed, making you feel more refreshed the following morning.
4. Exercises during the day
Studies show that people feel overall better and more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Exercising shortens the time it takes to fall asleep at night. If you’re like me and have a running mind at night that is constantly thinking about tasks for the next day, then you need more exercise. When I have a stressful week I know that I am going to have trouble sleeping if my daily activity consists of just walking to the bus from my house to the library. On days like these it can be hard to do a full workout, but even just a short walk to jog can improve your sleep that night by relaxing you. Exercising in general relaxes and de-stresses me, which is why it always helps my sleep schedule to make time for it.
5. Sleep with earplugs and eye patches
It can be hard to have a roommate. Different sleep schedules, and different class schedules can disrupt your peaceful night sleep. Get yourself a nice pair of eye patches to help you sleep. My favorite are ones that have a soft lavender scent to relax me. Another thing to consider is noise. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are not always the most peaceful time to catch up on sleep. Consider investing in a pair of ear plugs to block out that noise.
There are about one hundred benefits to eating healthy, and a better night sleep is just one of them. Try to cut out that sugary fruit pop tart before bed that will keep you up late at night. There are actually several foods that are known for helping sleep. Try eating a few cherries before bed. Cherries have a natural source of melatonin, which is a great sleep aide. Walnuts are also enriched with melatonin and tryptophan which is a sleep-enhancing amino acid. There are also a number so “sleepy time” teas out there that have literally put me to bed before I can even finish them.
These are just a couple of tips that can improve your sleep throughout college. Even though it seems like as a college student we are always exhausted, it sometimes is not that easy to fall asleep with stress and noisy roommates. I hope these tips and tricks help you have a peaceful night sleep.
Peace, Love and DDP,