For a long time, we’ve been aware of the “culture of busy” infected our lives and routines. Sometimes it feels like, if you’re not smothering under a 27 credit courseload, two internships, three campus organizations and at least one job, you must not be “doing enough” with your time. And unfortunately, one of the main areas that we sacrifice for the sake of “being busy” is our sleep. How many of us have pushed aside bedtime thinking we could nap later? Pulled all-nighter? Accidentally slept in when we weren’t supposed to?
Sleep is one of the first things college students neglect in their lives – and one of the most important. Lack of sleep results in symptoms similar to drunkenness – and not only are you going to be unable to retain information when you’re drunk (exhausted), but you’re also going to start making risky decisions with your health and safety in a more general and serious way.
But of course, most of you know this already. And you’ll give a humble smile and say you know you should sleep better, but the truth is, trying to tackle a regular sleep schedule is hard when you’re a student in the culture of busy. Luckily, we have some tips and tricks we’ve lifted from the articles highlighted below…
- Get up early. Instead of trying to cram for classes late at night, wake up early and move that studying (along with other activities) into the morning. You’ll find it both frees up your day, and helps you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
- And while we’re at it, limit those naps! We get it. They’re tempting. They’re especially tempting when it’s cold and dark out and your bed is so cozy. But they eat up hours you could be completing the tasks you normally reserve for 2am, and they make it harder for you to go to bed at night. If you have to nap, try to keep it around 20 minutes – only once a day, and not after 5pm.
- Plan out your day, hour by hour. You’ll find that there is time between classes or meetings when you could be studying. Filling in those gaps with productive work (instead of scrolling instagram) will leave you with more time to actually have fun and be with people in the evening (and still go to bed by midnight). You should also reward yourself, when possible, with some enjoyable activity in the morning (reading, working out, breakfast with friends) to treat yourself for waking up early, and try to get at least one or two afternoons during a seven-day week when you are just enjoying life.
- No caffeine in the evening. You knew that one was coming.
- Create a bedtime ritual. Shower, wash your face, read a book, talk with your mom on the phone. Meditate, or listen to some peaceful music. Do something that is peaceful and calming (and, if possible, limit tech or use night shift).
- Most importantly: wake up at the same time EVERY DAY, and go to sleep at the same time EVERY NIGHT. This is the best way to get your body into a routine, and for your body to learn how to feel tired in the evening and wakeful in the morning.
Make yourself a schedule and try it out for a month (it’s gonna take at least two weeks for your body to start adjusting). There are lots of resources, online or at the Health Center and Counseling Centers, to help!
- 13 Sleep Hygiene Tips for the Sleep College Student by Elizabeth Robinson
- Six Sleep Hygiene Habits Every Student Should Start Tonight by Lauren Elrick
- Sleep Problems in University Students – An Intervention by Angelika Anita Schlarb, Anja Friedrich, and Merle Claßen
- Guide to Sleep for College Students and Older Teens: Expert Advice on How to Get a Good Night’s Rest