It’s become an infamous stereotype that college students don’t sleep nearly enough during their time at school. Wander through any college library, especially during finals week or an exam period, and this suspicion will likely be confirmed (prior to COVID-19, of course). Findings may show overly caffeinated, disheveled students hunched over their computers or notebooks, bags under their bleary eyes, pushing through the first stages of sleep deprivation-induced delirium to finish their research papers or cram for that finance test in 45 minutes.
It’s possibly one of the most tired tropes about college students (no pun intended), and it’s also not entirely without merit: While there isn’t any remarkable effect on sleep quality, the quantity of sleep that college students get is lower than ever before. There are a myriad of new commonplace behaviors that college students have adopted over the past few decades that contribute to this phenomenon. However, there are some things college students can do to remedy their poor sleep hygiene and start feeling rested again. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), here are some tips for college students to get better sleep night in and night out.
It’s no great secret that any task or project hastily completed at the last possible minute is likely going to fare worse than one that has been consistent and deliberate, and the same principle applies to schoolwork. Whether it’s a test, a paper, or a presentation, it’s always a better idea to stretch the work out over a longer period of time rather than one prolonged period of hell. Twenty-four hours is not enough time to adequately prepare for a test covering an entire semester’s worth of material. Take the extra 45 minutes each night of the week before. Spend a couple hours of that Saturday doing that research for your essay.
Get Away from the Screens
It turns out that all screen time, from cell phones to TVs, has a negative impact on one’s sleep quantity. Try to avoid screen time as much as possible for at least 15 or 20 minutes before bed to avoid interfering with your ability to go to sleep. Activities such as reading are typically a good choice to fill the void of boredom.
Keep Your Bed for Sleeping
Just like you don’t cook dinner in your closet, it’s a good idea to keep your living space compartmentalized — watch TV in your living room, eat in your dining room, etc. By keeping the lines clear and unblurred, you reduce the risk of finding ways to keep yourself from sleeping and help train your body to associate your bed with sleep.
Eat Lightly Close to Bedtime
There’s a balance here because going to bed hungry also typically results in difficulty falling asleep. However, as any person who has ever eaten a full steak dinner half an hour before crawling into bed can attest, eating a heavy meal right before trying to sleep might actually be counterproductive to the food coma you were looking for. Somewhere in the middle, preferably on the lighter side of the equation, is likely going to be your best bet for a good night of rest.
Stick to a Set Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and waking up at a regular time every single day, including the weekends, can seem like a laughable request to make for the typical college student. But when your body’s rest period is constantly fluctuating from 8 a.m. classes to 2:30 p.m. Saturday snoozefests, it can wreak havoc on your ability to consistently get the sleep you need. Try not to deviate too much or too often from your normal cycle: The more you can avoid extremes, the better the results.
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