As the semester draws to a close, it seems sleep deprivation increases as more students prepare for finals and complete their end of term reports. Sleep deprivation is a norm for many college students, but it’s not a good one.
Research shows that a lack of sleep can negatively impact a student’s grades. Insufficient sleep won’t only affect your performance, but also your ability to do well on exams.
There are plenty of reasons for students not having a good night sleep with a big part of it being preparing for finals, taking up part-time work beyond the regular hours and finishing up any other important tasks related to studies.
The AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine) has outlined two ways to give yourself a better chance of acing that final; one is to study and the second is to provide yourself with enough sleep.
Here are some tips to help you sleep more and lead a better life.
Have a Sleep pattern
A lack of a proper sleep pattern can be detrimental to your body and mind’s ability to rest and recover. You need to form a sleep pattern that corresponds to your daily schedule. Being consistent here is critical. Don’t sleep 5 hours on a Monday, then 2 hours on a Wednesday. It’s an irregular pattern and not going to do you any good.
You need to come up with a sleep pattern and follow it every day, including weekends. Sleeping in on weekends can be alluring, but doing that can break your sleep pattern and put you back to square one. Following a consistent sleep pattern helps you feel energetic as you go about your time in college.
Avoid Electronics at Night
This is easier said than done for most college students. A survey showed that over two-thirds of college students take their phones to bed with them at night. A lot has is going around about blue light that screens emit and their impacts on our ability to sleep.
These screens can trick your brain into thinking that its day time thus making it harder for you to sleep. On top of that, reading emails and going through your social media feed can stimulate your brain, which can make it difficult for you to sleep as well.
It’s always best to avoid using the phone close to bedtime. The same goes for television and laptops. If you need to use your phone at night, install a good app that blocks blue light.
Finish your school work early
School work like reports and assignments are one of the main reasons why students pull all-nighters and deprive themselves of sleep. Some students tend to have a lot to do throughout the day, school, part-time work, clubs and more.
At times, students find themselves stretched too thin and at this point, something must give way and it’s usually the studies.
In this scenario, it’s only in the last minute that a student realizes they have assignments that are due soon and need to finish ASAP. For other students, it’s the freedom of being away from home. The freedom to do whatever they want.
Students sometimes end up using time in activities that are unimportant or to have fun to the last minute and then they stay awake during night finish study work.
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With that said, there’s an importance of dividing your time, having a schedule, and enforcing it. Have all your due dates marked and start doing the assignment in parts spread over a few days. It will certainly control your stress levels.
Develop a relaxing bedtime routine
Life can be stimulating, especially for a college student. One of the reasons that your brain isn’t falling asleep might be because it’s over stimulated. To counter this is a nice relaxing bedtime routine.
The routine you adopt will help your mind relax and make it easier for you to sleep. You could take a hot bath or listen to some relaxing music before bed.
One thing to note is you should avoid stimulating activities like homework right before bedtime. Avoid doing your routine in bright lights as well. Your bedtime routine should function as downtime between study/daily activities and bedtime.
9 hours is the sweet spot
As a student, you should aim to get at least 9 hours of sleep. A study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2008 looking at 882 students that close to a half of them were sleeping less than 8 hours a night.
According to the study, study hours of sleep had a positive association with GPA and level of motivation. What can you do to reach this coveted 9 hours of sleep? Incorporate naps into your schedule. Try to fit in a nap or two during the day if you find yourself sleeping for less than 9 hours at night.
Watch your caffeine intake
Coffee should be considered the official drink for most colleges. Students need energy to balance life while in college, so it’s no surprise that many turn to caffeine. Coffee is not bad in and of itself, it’s the frequency or rate of consumption that can pose issues.
You need to make sure that you don’t take a cup close to bedtime. It’s best that you avoid taking caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime to give yourself a good chance of giving yourself a good night’s sleep.
Also, take note we said watch your caffeine intake. There are many other sources of caffeine like soda, tea and chocolate, so be aware of these as well. Caffeine is the main culprit here.
Exercise Regularly and Watch your Health
Exercise is an activity that you should always try to squeeze into your schedule. It has plenty of benefits for the mind and body. Exercise also plays a role in improving sleep quality. It can make you healthier and stronger.
With that said, do not exercise right before bed as it can be detrimental to your sleep. Try your best to finish your workout 3 hours before you go to bed.
You also need to watch your physical and mental health. Stress and depression are one of the main agitators that cause poor sleep. On top of exercise, be sure to eat well, have a healthy diet and do things that help you relax and make you happy.
You can join a book club or visit family when possible. Try to diminish your stress levels. Talk to your academic advisor or mental health counselor if you ever feel too overwhelmed.
Sleep deprivation is not good for you in the long run. It might seem like a rite of passage when in college, but try to avoid it when possible. Avoid caffeine at night, watch your health and put time for school work daily. You’re going to benefit in the long run if your body and mind get enough sleep.