College is one of the most important times of life to get a sufficient amount of sleep. Consistently getting a full night’s sleep will give you an improved memory, mood, productivity, decision-making abilities, and immune system. All of these things are vital while you’re getting an education.
Unfortunately, college is also the time of life where many people feel they don’t have enough time to sleep. Between school, work, and a social life, it seems there’s no time for rest.
While it may feel difficult to fit in a full 7-9 hours, you’ll find that if you make time for sleep, you’ll have more energy to make room for all the other things as well. Here’s how to do it:
1. Stick to a Schedule
College students are notorious for their irregular sleep schedules. Whether it’s pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper or it’s staying up late with friends on the weekends, sleep is often sacrificed. But your body doesn’t know it’s Friday night or that you have an upcoming final. All it knows is that you are throwing off your sleep schedule.
It’s important to schedule your sleep at consistent times and stick to that schedule. Make your sleep schedule a priority and don’t let other things come in the way of it.
We all have a Circadian Rhythm, which is a cycle that occurs naturally in our body that tells us when it’s time to sleep. When you dramatically alter your sleep schedule, it throws off your Circadian Rhythm, causing lower quality sleep.
While it might sound less fun to go to sleep on time every night, your body will thank you for it, and likely your GPA will too. You’ll begin sleeping more deeply, and your ability to learn will greatly improve.
Just because you’re following a sleep schedule, doesn’t mean you have to go to bed early all the time. It’s okay if you like to stay up late, as long as you choose a bedtime and stick to it. Make sure you’re also waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Soon enough it won’t be hard to wake up on the weekends because you’ll be getting high-quality, restful sleep.
2. Turn Your Phone Off
These days most of us practically live with our phones attached to us. It’s rare to be away from our phones, even while sleeping. In fact, 66% of Americans admit to sleeping with their phone at night. Sadly, this prevents us from getting the rest we need.
Imagine if you replaced all the time you spend on your phone at night with sleep. Rather than scrolling through your feed while you fall asleep, turn your phone off at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. The light from your phone screen can make it more difficult to fall asleep and it can decrease your quality of sleep. If you turn your phone off, you’ll avoid getting distracted and be able to peacefully rest.
Leaving your phone on and near your bed all night interrupts your deep sleep, even when you don’t realize it. When you get texts, alerts, and other notifications, even if they don’t wake you up, your body can register them and bring you out of a state of deep sleep. That’s why it’s so important to have your phone turned off.
When you wake up in the morning, you should also avoid checking your phone. If you have extra time in the morning, set your alarm a little later to get a little more rest or add in an uplifting morning activity like journaling or yoga.
3. Skip the Soda
Everyone needs their favorite treats, but if soda is your go-to, it’s probably negatively affecting your sleep quality, especially if you’re drinking caffeinated sodas. Caffeine, especially if consumed daily, can cause insomnia or low-quality sleep. If you love your Coke or Dr. Pepper, at least try to stop drinking at least six hours before you go to sleep. This will allow the caffeine to mostly leave your system.
Even non-caffeinated sodas can impact your sleep due to the high sugar content. A study from 2016, found that people with diets high in sugar had lower quality of sleep and were more restless throughout the night. While many things contain sugar, soda is one of the biggest culprits of sneaking extra sugar into our diets when we don’t realize it. Cutting back on soda is one of the easiest ways to significantly reduce sugar intake.
4. Exercise Regularly
It may seem counterintuitive to add another thing to your schedule when you feel too busy for sleep, but exercising regularly can significantly improve your ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep all night.
Studies have found moderate or vigorous exercise reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. The thirty minutes it takes you to fit in a workout will be gained back when you’re able to fall asleep as soon as you get into bed, rather than having racing thoughts for thirty minutes before being able to sleep.
The reason exercise improves sleep is because it helps regulate your mood and helps you destress. This is an important aspect of being able to fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply. Exercise also tires your body out. Your body needs rest time to recover, so it makes you feel more tired to encourage you to take that needed rest time.
5. Learn To Power Nap
When you’re a busy college student, sometimes your sleep schedule simply doesn’t allow for long nights of sleep. Maybe you work late but have class early. If that’s the case, you can try to fit sleep into other parts of the day with power naps. Napping isn’t a replacement for a long night of sleep, but it can supplement your sleep if you find yourself just an hour short of a good night’s sleep.
To make power napping easier, bring earplugs and an eye mask with you to school or work. This will let you take your short nap without having to run home. Just find a soft chair or couch, block out the light and sound in the room and set an alarm for a short time later.
A power nap should be only 15 to 30 minutes. The short time period makes it possible to fit these naps in between other important things in your schedule. Try not to nap for longer than 30 minutes, as it can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep later that night. 30 minutes is enough to give both your mind and body a needed boost.