Staying up until the middle of the night to study and then sleeping for just a few hours may seem like the normal routine in college.
However, denying yourself enough sleep can prevent you from fulfilling your academic dreams.
Whether you sleep late because you are working on a school project, working part-time, partying, or socializing, you risk exposing yourself to some serious health problems.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Lack of enough sleep can cause tiredness or sleepiness during the day. It can also cause decreased attention, a lack of alertness, and lead to poor problem-solving skills.
These factors can cause learning difficulties, which in turn affects your academic performance.
In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation can impair the development of your brain, cause mood disorders, weaken your immune system, and increase the risk of obesity.
On the other hand, having ample sleep reinforces memory, increases concentration, and improves performance. The following are some tips to help you get a good sleep.
Set a Regular Wake and Sleep Schedule and Stick to it
The human body learns to become tired and wake up at specific times based on your habits. If you are used to sleeping at 10:00 p.m, you’ll always feel sleepy around that time.
However, switching your schedule confuses your body and makes it struggle to adapt. To avoid this, set yourself to sleep and wake up at the same time.
For better results, plan your schedule around your natural rhythm. Since everyone has a different biological sleeping pattern, study when your body starts to feel sleepy.
Some people sleep very early while others can’t find sleep until it’s late. Once you understand your natural rhythm, start getting to bed around that time. Just make sure you sleep for at least 8 hours.
Don’t Study in Bed
When exams are just around the corner, you may be tempted to polish up on a subject before getting to bed. Although it sounds like a smart idea, it disrupts your sleep pattern.
By studying in bed frequently, you train your body that your bed is a place to get work done.
When you finally lay down, your mind will still be in thinking-mode, thus it will take you more time to catch sleep. If you have to study, do it elsewhere, and preferably earlier.
Create a Calming Night Ritual
Nobody wants to stay in bed for hours trying to look for sleep. A relaxing bedtime routine allows one to catch sleep faster. The routine signals to the brain that it’s time to sleep.
To wind down, eliminate any noise or visual distractions. You can block excess light using a black curtain or eye pillow, and eliminate unwanted sound using white noise or earplugs.
To relax, you can take a shower, listen to soothing music, and read a book. Around 30 minutes before bedtime, put away all your gadgets.
Remember that a good mattress and pillow will help you sleep more comfortably.
Don’t Eat Within Two or Three Hours of Your Planned Bedtime
The time you eat influences how well you sleep. Eating large volumes of food close to bedtime has a negative impact on the quality of your sleep.
When you eat heavily just before bedtime, you interfere with different mechanisms of sleep. You may struggle to find sleep, or sleep for a shorter period than desired.
Avoid Caffeine or Alcohol Before Bedtime
Coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, and soft drinks that contain caffeine are bad for you if you take them just before bedtime.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and it acts as a fuel that helps keep the body alert. If you take it at night, it blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain, and it stays in the body for hours.
If you want to avoid sleep disturbances, only take caffeinated drinks in the morning and afternoon. Also, don’t consume alcohol before bedtime.
If you want to fall asleep and wake up feeling well-rested, then consider exercising regularly. At least 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can make a big difference when it comes to sleep quality. First, exercise tires the body out, which helps to trigger deep sleep. Second, it reduces stress, allowing you to sleep peacefully.
However, working out vigorously a few hours before going to bed may have the opposite effect. When you exercise, you over-stimulate your body and some chemicals released may keep your mind awake longer than you would want to.
Limit Afternoon Naps to Less than an Hour
It’s okay to take afternoon naps. However, watch the amount of time you nap, and the hour of the day you nap.
It’s recommended that one shouldn’t nap for more than an hour. If you take longer than that, you may interrupt your sleeping pattern at night. Also, you shouldn’t nap later than 3:00 p.m.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It’s easy to overlook the importance of sleep when in college.
Although you may be tempted to sacrifice sleep in order to study longer, work after school, or create more time for your social life, remember that lack of enough sleep can affect your health, memory, mood and grades.