Sleep is essential to academic performance as well as physical and mental health. The majority of college students do not get enough sleep due to social obligations, early morning classes, academic workload among other reasons. Students don’t learn as well when they are sleepy and their academic performance can suffer.
Sleep deprivation also puts students at a higher risk for major mood disorders and can compromise health. About 50 percent of all motor vehicle accidents involving an adolescents or young adults were caused by falling asleep at the wheel and insufficient sleep has also been associated with being overweight or obese. Sleep is so important, but underappreciated.
Keep yourself safe and healthy with these sleep hygiene tips:
- Take a nap. A short nap can boost energy and help you perform at your highest potential. Just be sure not to nap too close to bedtime or for too long so that your night time sleep is not compromised.
- Don't work in bed. Working in bed will make it harder to get to sleep. Keep work separate and make your bed a sleep haven. Screens such as cell phones, tablets and laptops have been well proven to disrupt sleep.
- Get a full night’s sleep whenever possible. The constantly changing schedule of college life can make this challenging. Most people need seven to nine hours to feel fully rested. Make getting a full night of sleep a priority.
- Talk to your roommate. Living in a dorm or an apartment with roommates can make getting enough sleep even more challenging. Respect each other’s schedules and a small investment in earplugs and a sleep mask can go a long way.
- Avoid all-nighters. An all-nighter might feel necessary on occasion, but not sleeping impairs your ability to retain information. Studying while exhausted is not efficient. Create a schedule that allows for time to sleep and time to study.
- Avoid caffeine, eating and drinking right before bed. Caffeine should be kept to the morning, or early afternoon at the latest. Late-night snacks can also throw off your natural sleep cycle.
- Keep your room dark and quiet. This is always a challenge on a college campus, but a dark, quiet, and slightly cool bedroom will trigger to your body that it is time for bed. Using a cell phone after lights out has been strongly associated with shorter sleep duration, poor sleep quality and daytime sleepiness. Charge your phone away from your bed at night.