Many college students struggle with sleep – whether it is getting enough sleep, feeling rested in the morning, or trouble getting to sleep, it is common to find that most people want more and better sleep. The amount of sleep that a college student gets is often directly proportional to the quality of his or her work. How can you improve the quantity and quality of your sleep? Here are some tips on how to get into a more regular sleep cycle.
Get a Comfortable Mattress Pad
You can start preparing to sleep well at college before you even get there. If you are going to make a big investment in one thing when coming to college, make it your mattress pad. A good one will significantly improve the quality of your sleep, and is worth the up-front investment.
Set Up a Sleep Routine
What many people struggle with is the fact that they come back to their room late, throw their things on the floor, brush their teeth, and lay down in bed. However, they do not fall asleep because their minds are still active. They remain awake for 30 to 45 minutes wondering why they can’t fall asleep.
If this sounds like you, try to set up a sleep routine.
This routine might consist of going to your room, putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, setting your alarm, turning the lights off, doing something not particularly taxing mentally (such as light reading), then getting into bed. If you do this consistently, your body will associate this sequence of actions with getting sleepy, and you should begin to fall asleep more readily.
Follow the Same Schedule – Even on Weekends
Setting up a routine isn’t much use if you don’t follow it 2/7ths or 3/7ths of the time. If you set up something that works for you during the day, follow it during the weekend too, or else you’ll feel exhausted Monday and will perpetuate sleep problems.
There are two types of noise to be concerned about in college: noise from inside your dorm and noise from outside your dorm. You may be able to ask for those causing the former to reduce the noise, but if there are things like construction going on outside, there may be nothing you can do. Using simple earplugs may reduce the amount of noise that interferes with your ability to fall or stay asleep.
Talk to Your Roommate
If your roommate does things that prevent you from getting or staying asleep, talk to him or her. There’s no reason why their lifestyle should affect your ability to sleep (So long as you sleep regular hours – if you sleep during the day and stay up all night, this doesn’t apply to you – get some help.). These things might include listening to loud music, talking on the phone until late in the night, having visitors in the room when you are trying to go to bed, or anything else. Talk to your roommate about the problem first, and if they don’t make an effort to change their actions, notify your RA and ask them to step in.
Do Work During the Day
A major mistake many people make is to wait until 10 or 11 to begin doing homework and studying. This does not work in favor of most people, as they are stimulating themselves mentally, do not retain the material being covered, stay up until 1 or 2, and wake up exhausted the next day. If you have time in the morning or afternoon to do work, do it then. You’ll do it more quickly and more correctly, and you won’t have to worry about it for the rest of the evening.
There will be times when you have to work late, but try to make those the exception, rather than the rule.
Don’t Study on Your Bed
When you study or do homework on your bed, you are associating the act of doing work and mental stimulation with being on your bed. Therefore, when you try to go to sleep, you are less likely to fall asleep easily. Do homework and readings at your desk, and let your bed be the place where you sleep.
While working out is fundamentally good for you (if done correctly), exercise may help you fall asleep and stay asleep as well. Working out may provide an outlet for stress, which is one major reason why people have trouble sleeping. Likewise, if your body has been taxed during the day, you are more likely to want to go to sleep because your body needs time to repair itself. Caveat – don’t work out right before bed. This will keep you awake. Work out in the afternoon if possible.
Don’t Drink Before Bed
Limit your intake of both caffeine and alcohol before bed. Caffeine can make it hard for you to fall asleep and alcohol can limit the restfulness of your sleep.
Turn Your Phone Off
If you are getting text messages and phone calls that wake you up in the wee hours of the morning, it’s time to do something about it. Either turn your phone off or set it so that only the alarm goes off, but nothing else (in case you don’t use an alarm clock). As stated earlier, no one should interfere with your ability to sleep.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you sleep and perform better while at school. Good luck!