Fitting Sleep into College




Let’s talk sleep.  I know.  I know!  As a fellow college student, I am fairly aware of how a great night of sleep is like the holy grail of every college campus.  However, you don’t have to be Indiana Jones to catch some ZZZs.  A great sleep schedule can easily lift moods, increase energy, and improve productivity.  And if that’s not enough, according to the Livestrong Foundation, people who go to bed late are more likely to eat out at fast-food restaurants, eat unhealthy, and have higher BMIs!

I know that we have all been there.  Between going to class, working, and having a social life, our schedules can sometimes run away from us.  Before we know it, it’s four in the afternoon and we haven’t even begun to study for that 8:00 am exam.  So we load up on Red Bull and Jimmy Johns and head to Club Hendy for the night.  But actually, students who pull “all-nighters” are more likely to have a lower GPA.  In fact, after two weeks of sleeping six hours or less a night, students feel as bad and perform as poorly as someone who has gone without sleep for 48 hours.  And we say to ourselves, “Just make it to the weekend.”

Just make to the weekend… sometimes the only thought that can get us through our sleep-deprived weeks.

We end up sacrificing sleep during the week just to compensate by sleeping in late on the weekends.  So the problem is solved, right?  Wrong.  When we wake up later than our internal clocks, our bodies constantly have to readjust, which can lead to performing poorly in class.  The top three major reasons for sleep deprivation are increased part-time working hours, staying up late to complete assignments or studying, and watching television before bedtime.  Here are even some more negative side effects from a poor sleep schedule:

  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
  • Increase in overall body weight
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems
  • Increased risk for mental conditions including depression and substance abuse
  • Decreased ability to pay attention in class

Here are some tips on how to make having a great sleeping cycle happen:

  1. Make sleep a priority.  Make a commitment to yourself to keep a consistent sleep schedule even on the weekends.  Don’t be afraid to turn down friends or study partners from staying out late at night so that you can make sure that you are getting enough sleep!
  2. Keep a journal.  By keeping a sleep journal you can track the progress you are making.  Just like when trying to start a new workout regimen, create sleeping goals and then reward yourself when you reach them.  Just physically tracking your progress can motivate you to stick to your schedule.
  3. Only use the bedroom for sleep.  Keep all electronics outside of the bedroom including TVs, laptops, and cellphones.  As students, we often complete our homework on our beds (especially if your room is as small as mine).  Try to move this to the living room or even outside.  Also, limit electronic use at least one hour before going to bed.  The lights from the different devices can stimulate your eyes and mind preventing you from getting that much needed sleep.
  4. Exercise regularly.  By working out during the day, we can physically make our bodies tired, making it easier to fall asleep.
  5. Finish eating at least two to three hours before retiring.  While you should avoid caffeine and alcohol, this applies as well.  By eating, we are providing our body more energy that can prevent us from falling asleep.


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