College can be tough on the old’ circadian rhythms. With late nights aplenty and disruptions galore (especially if you’re in a dorm-style situation), it can be tough to get an A+ on Sleep 101.
Sleep, though, is precisely what you’ll need to push through the really stressful times of the semester, so here are 5 of the top tips on how to get enough of it. Implement them into your daily routine, and see how much more invigorated you feel!
1. Set a regular routine – and stick to it
Spontaneity is a beautiful thing, and it certainly has a place in college. Agreeing to a spontaneous night out every night, though, is a path to certain ruin.
So, listen to your mother and set yourself a regular sleep routine. You’ll have to work around your class timetable, but whether you decide to lay down at 10 and get up at 6, or sleep at midnight and rise at 8, try your utmost to aim for a good 7-8 hours each night. It helps to view this shift of shut-eye as a kind of “sacred time” – that is, as something that isn’t to be infringed upon by an assignment that’s due, and something that you won’t trade in for a frat party that suddenly pops up next door.
2. Move and meditate
Time and again, research has proven the value of both exercise and meditation in bettering sleep quality. For college students harangued by anxiety and stress, of course, it’s even more critical to catch enough Zzz’s every night.
These habits don’t have to be time-consuming, either. As little as 10 minutes of meditation every morning, followed by the same amount or more of exercise (walking, running, swimming, whatever you like) will impact positively on your ability to sleep at night. Better yet, you might combine the two by taking a class of yoga at your college’s recreation centre!
3. Create a sleep-conducive environment
For many students, moving into a dorm will be their first experience of living away from home – which is why simulating the cosiness and comfort of the home environment is key to ensuring proper sleep.
The two things which are most likely to keep students from a good night’s sleep are excessive noise and light. To block out those annoyances, make sure you bring along a good set of earplugs (an essential in every student’s suitcase), as well as some blackout blinds to keep out those pesky sun rays. That way, you’ll have the ideal dark and peaceful environment for quality rest.
4. Practice caution with caffeine
Don’t panic: we’re not saying that you have to give up coffee altogether! But if you currently veer on the side of caffeine addiction, be careful not to make yourself even more dependent on the stuff in the midst of exam season. Everybody is different, but in general, it’s a good idea to steer clear of caffeine for a good 6-8 hours before your bedtime, so as not to affect your sleep.
5. Avoid screens and naps in the evening
Much like avoiding caffeine, there are some common-sense things you can do to ensure that you’re not jeopardizing your ability to fall asleep. Avoiding electronics and naps after 4pm are two such things. Too much screen time in the evening has been proven to overstimulate the brain, and everyone knows that napping too close to bedtime is a no-no. If you do have to take a power-nap, though, keep it to 17 minutes or shorter – the prime period of time to refresh your mind without entering REM.
Author: Night Owl Cloe knows the struggles of going to bed early and sticking to a healthy sleeping routine – just ask her about her uni days! As a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand, she's no stranger to 'burning the midnight oil' when she's writing articles for blogs, sites and local businesses such as Keith Andrews. See more of Cloe’s work on Tumblr.