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Tips On How to Get Better Sleep

by Scott Hokkanen

Are you having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Willing to try anything to get those much-needed hours of rest in?

There’s a lot that can be done to help your body shut down and recover. Here’s what health professionals from the National Institute of Health suggest for improving your slumber:


 

Quick facts

  • College students are one of the most sleep-deprived populations. Research at Brown University has found that approximately 11% of students report good sleep, while 73% report sleep problems.
  • 18% of college men and 30% of college women report having suffered from insomnia in the past 3 months.
  • Sleep deprivation in students has been linked to lower GPAs because sleep affects concentration, memory and the ability to learn.
  • The average adult sleeps less than seven hours each night, when most need eight or more hours.
  • More than one-third of adults report daytime sleepiness at least a few days per month that interferes with work or social functioning.

 
Sleeping golden retriever puppy

As you can see, sleep is an important issue that many college and university students should be taking seriously.


 

Helpful tips

Stop using all technology 30 minutes before you go to bed

It may be hard, but that means all cellphones, laptops, and e-readers must be banned from your bed. The National Institute of Health claims that having less exposure to artificial light can help you fall asleep. So no more scrolling through your Instagram at 2 a.m.! As an alternative, try winding down with a good lighthearted book.
 

No caffeine after 3 p.m.

This is a big one – and that includes Frappucinos and sodas! Don’t wire yourself up. When you have too much caffeine in your system, your body might not be able to fight it and you just won’t fall asleep.

Man wearing sunglasses drinking an iced coffee

Incorporate a small amount of time each day to be outside in daylight

Spending time outside during the day helps to preserve your body’s sleep and wake cycles. There are many options on campus for this:

Walk to class, study outside, play a regular outdoor club sport, sled in the arboretum in the wintertime. Relax in the sun with your friends. Organize a weekly walk outside with your friends to get benefits of both exercise and sunlight. Work a job that allows you to be outside.
 

Try to get some physical activity every day

Regular exercise can promote more regular sleep and wake patterns as well as reduce stress. However, it’s important to avoid exercise and other vigorous activities three to four hours before going to bed.
 

Have a regular meal schedule

Eat smaller meals and be especially careful to avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. Your eating schedule may be dictated by your class/work schedule or by the times when your friends are eating. Also, your body doesn’t digest food or burn calories well while sleeping, so avoiding eating large meals before bedtime is generally a good idea.

Harley Quinn drinking tea and reading a book in Suicide Squad movie

Avoid alcohol close to bedtime

There’s no harm in safely and legally enjoying an adult-beverage, but students should know that alcohol is disruptive to sleep. Sleep experts recommend avoiding alcohol at least four to six hours prior to bed. A common misconception is that alcohol can help people sleep. Although it may help you fall asleep faster, research has shown the alcohol disrupts sleep throughout the night.
 

Practice time management with your school work

Worrying in bed about the next day or week can keep you from falling asleep. Try to stay on top of your school work to decrease your overall stress and worry, and to reduce last minute cramming. In addition, mentally plan for the next day before getting into bed. Journaling before bed is a technique that some students have found to be a helpful stress-reduction exercise before bed.

Bart Simpson trying to stay awake in the dark

Avoid all-nighters

While all-nighters and late-night study sessions may give you extra time to cram, they are also likely to drain your brainpower. Sleep deprivation hinders your ability to perform complex cognitive tasks like those required on exams. Also your brain is less likely to retain information that you learn while sleep-deprived. It is better to sleep the night before an exam, even if it means studying fewer hours.

 

Spongebob character, Star, eating a burger in bed


Give some of these tips a try and let us know if they work! Or if you need to catch some Zs on campus, check out the IGNITE Sleep Lounge.

Sleep Lounge locations:

  • North: KX208 – Fireplace Room.
  • Lakeshore: KB106, sign up in Games Room (K Basement)

Hours of Operation:

9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday to Friday