Sleep is one of the most powerful indicators of student success, and with good reason. Sleep not only refreshes our organs and physical bodies but it helps us to consolidate and synthesize the information that we take in everyday. Many college students (and adults in general) find that they have trouble getting enough quality sleep at night.
Here are some tips for improving the quality and quantity of your sleep:
- Develop a routine - Routines signal to our body that something is about to happen-in this case, sleep! Starting a bedtime routine 30 minutes before going to sleep can help unwind the mind and body and release melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Starting the routine at the same time and trying to wake up and the same time everyday can improve sleep quality and quantity.
- Reducing caffeine - Caffeine has been shown to cause people to take longer to get to sleep, cause more awakenings, and lower the quality of sleep. Many types of soda contain caffeine as does chocolate, coffee and many types of teas.
- Limiting alcohol - Consuming alcohol, even as little as one to two drinks can produce fragmented sleep, causing a decrease in deep and REM sleep.
- Go screen-free - The light emitted from cell phones, computer screens, tablets, and televisions trick our bodies and brains into thinking that it is light outside and we should be awake. Adding screen-free time into your routine can help you fall asleep faster.
- Make time for physical activity - Often at the end of the day our brains are exhausted but our bodies are restless after sitting in class all day. Making time for physical activity, even just a walk around campus, can help the brain and body get on the same page at the end of the day.
- 9 is nice - Recent research shows that college students need the most sleep for adults. Nine hours is the estimated standard for most. While not all students can get nine hours every night, aiming to increase your sleep time by ten to fifteen minute increments can really add up over time and get you closer to nine.