College students don’t usually get the sleep they need. Staying up late, pulling all-nighters to study or having an inconsistent bedtime all contribute to a lack of good sleep. It’s even possible you aren’t getting enough sleep because you eat in bed!
What can a lack of sleep do to you?
A lack of good sleep messes with your ability to complete complex tasks or remember things. When you don’t have enough sleep, your productivity decreases. Your lack of sleep will show in your work, conversations, and even free time.
A lack of sleep also increases the effects of anxiety. When I don’t get enough sleep, assignments that I could do in a day appear to be much more difficult.
One of the school related consequences of not getting enough sleep could be a decreased GPA. According to The College Student Journal, students who sleep for 6 hours get a lower GPA than students who sleep for 9 hours.
How do I get more sleep?
Remember when I talked about eating in bed? Your body is great at associating different places with actions, such as eating in the kitchen or using the restroom in the restroom. When you read or eat in bed, your body doesn’t associate it with a sleeping place and it’s more difficult to sleep at night. On the other hand, when you use your bed for only sleep and you climb into bed, your body says “hey, let’s get some sleep now”.
You can also make a bedtime ritual. I like to turn off my computer and brush my teeth before I go to sleep. Now whenever I brush my teeth and floss at night, I get a little sleepy. I also go to sleep an hour or so before I’d get eight hours of sleep. I wake up fully rested before my alarm goes off.
One thing I try to avoid is taking naps. I used to love taking naps in the middle of the day for half an hour to even an hour. Now that I get back home late, I don’t have the opportunity for an early afternoon nap. Even when I am sleepy throughout the day, I do my best to keep awake and go to sleep early instead.
It’s good to avoid caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and heavy meals before bed. Tobacco and caffeine stimulate your body and prevent sleep even if you’re tired. While alcohol might put you asleep, your sleep will end up very inefficient and you’ll wake up tired and possibly hungover. Finally, big meals before bed will keep you up as your body slowly digests the food. You’ll often end up with a stomach ache when you wake up, which is not fun.
Dos and Don’ts for getting good sleep (hopefully forever):
Make a bedtime ritual that prepares your body for sleep.
Get to sleep earlier than you think you need to so you’ll wake up before your alarm.
Eat heavy meals or consume tobacco, caffeine, or alcohol before bed.
Read, play video games, check your phone in your bed. Definitely don’t eat in bed because that’s gross.
Take long naps in the late afternoon or evening.
That’s it! If you’re practicing good sleep habits and find you can’t sleep well, you may need to see a doctor or medical professional.