Think skipping out on sleep will help your grades? Think again
Keeping a hectic schedule and depriving your body of sleep may seem normalized to some as an increasing number of adults don’t get adequate sleep. But far from being normal or desirable, sleep deprivation carries negative health consequences. If nothing else, skipping out on sleep will lead to sleeping through lectures, which can tarnish your reputation with your professors and impact your grades.
Since quality sleep and a regular sleep schedule are essential for good health, creating better habits surrounding sleep now is an excellent investment in your long-term well-being. Prioritizing optimal sleep will improve your academic, social and work life, and small shifts can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Why getting a good night’s sleep is important
Getting a full night of sleep is essential for all people, and it’s especially important for college students under the age of 25, whose brains are still developing.
There are many reasons to prioritize getting enough sleep, including:
- Sleep deprivation has negative effects on your hormones and brain function.
- Getting enough sleep has been linked to better academic performance and higher grades because students who get enough rest have more energy to study for exams and focus while working on assignments.
- Students who get enough sleep each night have increased retention and better memory, leading to better performance on exams.
- Getting enough sleep regulates your metabolism and can overall make you healthier. People who get enough sleep are also able to exercise more.
- Getting enough sleep has been shown to lead to better risk evaluation.
- Getting proper sleep has a positive effect on mood and general outlook and decreases irritability and stress.
- Getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy immune system and will help you get sick less often.
How to get a good night’s sleep as a college student
Keep a regular sleep and wake schedule
Does your schedule vary dayto-day as you balance classes, work, study sessions and your social life? While balancing a lot can get in the way of good sleeping habits, being well-rested will actually make it easier to navigate your daily life. Your body’s rhythm will change to match your schedule, which will improve your sleep quality.
There are several ways you can modify your life to stick to a consistent schedule.
Evaluate your daily schedule
If juggling too much is disruptive to your sleep schedule, take inventory of what you do with your time.
Make a list of everything you have to do for school and work, plus social activities. Block off time for all that you do in a planner to make it easier to manage your time.
If you have too much on your plate, dial back where you can. Are you choosing classes during times of day that work for you? Does your work schedule support your academic and health goals? Look for places where you can modify your schedule to make it more intuitive.
Stick with a routine
Sleeping in on the weekends can make it harder to wake up in the morning and lead to grogginess.
Try to develop a routine and stick with it. If you find yourself hitting snooze to avoid the stress of getting ready in the morning, streamline your routine by planning ahead of time.
Lay out your clothes the night before, plan what you’ll have for breakfast and write out your to-do list and schedule for the day the night before.
Don’t go to bed too early
If you find yourself becoming drowsy after dinner, try doing something to stay awake like tidying your living space, talking to a friend or roommate, going for a leisurely walk or listening to upbeat music.
Use natural light during the day to promote a good circadian rhythm
Your body uses natural light to regulate its circadian rhythm, so it’s important to get enough sunlight. Try adding natural light to your morning routine by having your coffee by the window or by going for a walk first thing in the morning.
Throughout the day, look for opportunities to go outside. If you eat lunch at the campus dining hall, is there patio seating? Can you pack a sandwich and eat it at a picnic table?
Try opening your curtains when at home or sitting by a window when studying at the library.
Limit artificial light to fall asleep faster
Put down your device at least an hour before bed to allow your brain to produce melatonin and regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Resist the urge to fall asleep texting or watching television. If you need to study before bed, try relying on books and doing your screen-reliant studying during the day.
A pair of blue light-blocking glasses will stop blue light from reaching your brain and impacting your body’s production of melatonin. While you should still avoid devices immediately before bed, using these glasses during the evening is beneficial.
Try holistic sleep aids and supplements for sleep
Natural sleep aids can help you fall asleep at night. Check with your doctor before using a new supplement or sleep aid, even those that are natural and non-habit forming.
Melatonin is the body’s sleep hormone and can be taken in 5mg tablets to promote sleep. One study showed a 15% improvement in sleep as a result of melatonin supplementation. Be careful when taking melatonin, as some people experience drowsiness the next morning.
Magnesium is a chemical element essential for over 600 processes in the body. Take magnesium in the form of a supplement to promote relaxation and sleep.
One of the most popular ways to take magnesium for sleep is in the form of the supplement Calm, which is an anti-stress drink that restores healthy magnesium levels and promotes sleep. It can be made into a warm beverage and mixed with lemon for a soothing nighttime ritual.
Lavender has been shown to lead to increased feelings of calm and relaxation and to induce sleep. Try diffusing lavender essential oil before bed, using a lavender bath bomb or even applying lavender lotion to fall asleep.
Meditate and practice mindfulness to promote calm and fall asleep
Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques before bed improves the quality of your sleep and helps you fall asleep faster. It promotes a general sense of well-being and calm, as well.
Listen to a guided meditation before bed or play calming music or ocean waves through noise-canceling earbuds.
Try a hot shower or bath
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Many college students rely on caffeine in the morning to feel energized to take on the day, and caffeine offers benefits like enhanced focus and alertness.
Drinking caffeine within six hours of the time you intend to go to sleep can negatively alter your sleep patterns and worsen sleep quality because caffeine is a stimulant that inhibits your body’s ability to relax and produce sleep hormones. It’s best to only drink caffeine in the morning.
Craving a cup of coffee after your evening classes? Try a cup of decaf instead.
Likewise, drinking alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle by disrupting melatonin production. Avoid alcohol throughout the week and before bed if you’re struggling to fall asleep at night.
Top products to help you get a good night’s sleep
Creating a relaxing bedroom environment will help you fall asleep faster. This essential oil diffuser can be used with relaxing essential oils like lavender to make you feel at ease and ready for bed.
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Having a hard time putting down your phone an hour before bed, and are instead scrolling deep into the night? A designated docking station will help you stick to a hard no-phone-at-bedtime policy. This electronic docking station works with multiple devices and looks chic.
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One of the easiest ways to use lavender to promote sleep is to spray on your pillow before bed. Spritz this aromatherapeutic lavender essential oil blend onto your pillow and blanket to promote relaxation and sleep naturally.
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Evelyn Waugh writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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