College life can make it hard to get enough sleep. Between exams, participating in clubs or sports, working a part-time job, or having a fun social life, you may have a hard time fitting sleep into your busy schedule. Getting enough sleep is important to a successful college experience. Sleeping well keeps your memory sharp for getting good grades, promotes a healthy immune system, and can improve your mood.
The following tips can help you get those recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night to ensure you get the most out of college.
1. Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment
Whether you’ve just moved into a dorm or off-campus apartment, it is important to make sure you are comfortable sleeping. Adjust the room to a pleasant temperature. Reduce the light in your room, if necessary by getting some blackout curtains or an eye mask. Also, discuss with your roommate any noise concerns or get some earplugs for noises that are out of your control. Finally, running a fan could help you sleep and is an inexpensive alternative to a white noise machine.
2. Keep a Sleep Schedule
Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning ensures a stable circadian rhythm for your body. Even on the weekends, try to stick to this schedule.
3. Plan Your Study Routine
Set aside certain times for studying and doing coursework to avoid all-nighters. Use an old-fashioned paper calendar or an app to plan for exams, papers, or big projects that are coming up. This will reduce anxiety and procrastination and ensure you can keep your sleep schedule.
4. Avoid Caffeine After Lunch
It is tempting to use coffee or other caffeinated beverages to push through a day full of courses or studying at night. This can make it harder to sleep. Harvard University recommends avoiding caffeine at least 4-6 hours before you sleep. If at all possible, just stick to the morning coffee.
5. Turn Off Electronic Devices Before Bed
Your phone, laptop or television can be a distraction right before bed. The blue light they emit also decreases melatonin, making it difficult to sleep. Avoid these devices at least 1 hour before bed for better sleep.
6. Take Short Naps Early in the Day
If you need a little extra rest, it is okay to nap. However, napping too long or late in the afternoon can disrupt your sleep later. Taking a power nap for less than 30 minutes early in the day is best.
7. Try Meditation
Adding meditation to your routine can help you clear your mind and reduce stress. Download a free meditation app on your phone to get started. The Insight Timer, Smiling Mind, and MyLife Meditation apps have thousands of guided meditations for sleep, stress, or mindfulness that can take as little as 5 minutes.
8. Take a Walk or Get Some Light Exercise
A little exercise, like a quick 10-minute walk, is a simple way to sleep better. Also, keeping yourself in daylight while you’re awake can keep your internal clock on track. So get outside whenever you can, and get a little exercise at the same time.
9. Don’t Go to Bed Unless You’re Tired
This tip may seem obvious, but there is no sense in lying awake for hours if you can’t sleep. If you can’t get to sleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something calming. Reading a non-college book or listening to music may soothe your mind and make you tired.
10. Seek Professional Help if Necessary
If you continue to have trouble sleeping, it may be time to seek further help. Your college advisor can help you adjust your academic schedule to reduce stress, which may help you sleep. Don’t hesitate to use the health resources at your college or university, speak to a counselor, or visit your doctor. You may have sleep apnea or another disorder that could be causing insomnia.
We hope these tips help you optimize your sleep to have a successful college experience.
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