Alaska Sleep Education Center

7 Ideas To Help College Students Get Better Rest

Posted by Kevin Faber on Dec 29, 2021 3:33:00 AM

Female college student in a classroom holding a notebook

Getting an adequate amount of rest can be difficult for a college student. Between balancing stressful school workloads, maintaining good grades, working and finding time for fun activities, they miss out on the sleep they need.

Students should try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. A good night's rest is necessary because it re-energizes the body and gives the brain much-needed rest. Sleep deprivation may inhibit a student's ability to focus, increase stress and anxiety and impair thinking skills.

If you're a sleep-deprived college student, it's essential to repair those sleepless nights. Getting the rest you need will improve your mental, emotional and physical health. Here are seven tips to help you get the rest your body needs to function at its best.

 

  1. Stick to a Sleep Routine

Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will help you get into a consistent sleep schedule, which will ensure you get the hours of rest you need to function well. This routine is important because it keeps your circadian rhythm in check. In short, your body is prompted to sleep when it's dark. The darkness signals the production of melatonin in the brain, which causes you to feel tired. Alternatively, when it's light again, your brain tells you to wake up.

Specific stressors can throw this rhythm off, such as if you're worried about student loans or an upcoming exam. However, if you start a regular sleep pattern, the circadian rhythm can be reset. Even if you can't fall asleep right away, it's vital to set your alarm and wake up at the scheduled time to keep your routine the same. As much as you probably want to sleep in on the weekends, it's best to keep consistency within your schedule. 

 

  1. Use Your Bed for Sleep Only

While it may be tempting to lie on your bed and study, this action may make you tired. Your brain associates your bed with sleep, so even if you intend to do school work, you may still be motivated to take a nap. 

It's a better idea to have a designated area to read or do homework. You'll be able to stay more alert at a desk in your room or the library.

 

  1. Limit Naps

Nothing feels quite as nice as a short nap when you're exhausted. However, taking a nap can interfere with your sleep schedule, leaving you feeling tired overall. If you must take an energizing catnap, shoot for 20 to 30 minutes at the most. 

 

  1. Maintain a Daily Schedule

What you do during the day influences your ability to sleep. If you can find a schedule that meets your needs, you'll be able to fall asleep and sleep well throughout the night. 

One thing you can add to your daily schedule is a workout routine. Exercising releases endorphins, so you'll feel better after the workout. Additionally, moderate physical activity increases how much slow-wave sleep you get. This deep sleep allows your brain and body to recharge. Since working out improves your mood and helps you to mellow out, you'll be better able to fall asleep in the first place.

A second aspect to consider is how long you should wait after your last meal to sleep. Most nutritionists agree that you should wait between two and three hours to go to bed after eating dinner. Waiting to lie down allows your stomach to digest the food, which can prevent heartburn and insomnia. Food can also tell your brain to stay awake, so it might be challenging to get some shut-eye if you eat too close to your bedtime. 

 

  1. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Many college students rely heavily on caffeine to get through the long days of classes. To ensure it doesn't affect your sleep, you should stop drinking coffee, cappuccino and energy drinks at least six hours before your bedtime, even if you're trying to stay awake for a late-night study session.

You may want to cut back on caffeine altogether if you're having dependence symptoms, including anxiety, headaches or insomnia. Drinking too much caffeine can cause you to wake up frequently, have difficulty falling asleep and suffer from nighttime nervousness. If you're worried about an upcoming exam, caffeine can add to your stress level.

While many people think that drinking alcohol allows you to sleep well, this belief is actually false. It causes relaxation and tiredness, which may help you fall asleep but interferes with your ability to get into a deep sleep.

In general, excessive alcohol consumption negatively affects sleep more than moderate drinking does. It's best to stop drinking alcohol at least four hours before you intend to go to bed.  

 

  1. Create a Nighttime Ritual

If you can get into a habit before bed, your mind will start to associate these actions with going to sleep. Choose a time to put down the textbooks and study materials so you can wind down. Some ideas to help you relax are taking a short walk, reading, listening to music, meditating or journaling. If you decide to watch TV, avoid action-packed movies and shows that are too stimulating. They'll keep you awake instead of helping you relax.

It's also a good idea to put your electronic devices away. Games and apps stimulate your brain, keeping you awake for longer. Additionally, if you're using your phone, the screen's blue light suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin is the sleep hormone, and a lack of it can cause insomnia at night.

While you may think that scrolling through Facebook or Instagram is relaxing, this activity can cause you to feel a range of emotions. Obviously, if you see something upsetting, it will affect your sleep. However, even if you find something that makes you laugh or brings you joy, your ability to fall asleep may still be negatively impacted. The best thing to do is put your phone on silent and put it somewhere where you're not tempted to check it constantly.

 

  1. Maintain an Environment that Influences Sleep 

Your bedroom environment influences your ability to get a good night's rest. Keep your room cool, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're sleeping in a dorm, you may not have control over the temperature, so keep a fan on hand.

Your room should also be dark and quiet. If your housemates are loud or keep the lights on too late, consider investing in noise-canceling headphones and a sleep mask.

As long as you're willing to make some changes to your habits, you'll be able to get your sleep schedule back on track and have energy for the best parts of your college experience.

Summary 

If you're wondering why you're tired all the time, there is a considerable chance that you're sleep-deprived. The results of insufficient sleep and the effects on physical health and sleep quality are immediate and severe. Not only does sleep deprivation lead to an increased risk of illness, but the symptoms are just as severe. Inadequate sleep can make it difficult to concentrate, remember things, and function normally.  

Lack of sleep can also lower your immune response and weaken your ability to fight off disease. It can contribute to weight gain, which is another common problem among college students. Lack of sleep can affect your emotions and moods, which are essential aspects of your well-being that we all take for granted. 

Sleep is needed for several reasons including the normal consolidation of information into long-term memory, the restoration of brain cells that were damaged during the day, and the production of hormones such as serotonin that affect mood and energy levels.

At the Alaska Sleep Clinic, we diagnose and treat thousands of cases of sleep apnea every year. Because treatment for sleep apnea through continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or other alternative treatments is so effective, there's no reason to have to live with sleep apnea or any of its debilitating symptoms. For a free 10-minute phone consultation with a sleep expert click the link below and be on your way to getting quality sleep every night so you feel energized everyday.

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, Snoring, college, students, getting beter sleep

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