Getting enough? Six facts about sleep for the college student
It’s Labour Day, and you’re probably enjoying your final morning of sleeping in before school starts. As you begin your classes this semester, you’re going to ease into your new schedule, and gradually figure out when you can do your schoolwork, when your meals can be, when you have free time to relax, and when you can get that same level of sleep. That last one’s particularly important. Without a healthy body, your mind won’t function properly, and it’s a problem that you’ll need to manage. There’s a lot that’s been written on the subject, and Lifehacker in particular is full of tips, tricks and research. Here’s a condensed look at the site’s most important points.
1. Not sleeping isn’t some sort of badge of honour
Bragging about how busy you are and how much work you do can seem good, since it makes you out to be dedicated and committed, but as this first article on rebooting your sleep cycle points out, you’re causing problems for yourself. In fact, here’s an infographic that explains how lack of sleep affects you in the long run. Symptoms include poor memory, lack of focus, and a loss of health, all of the problems when you’re trying to get ahead in college. So, do yourself a favour, and manage your sleep time. You can start by making sure you…
2. Know how much you need
There’s new data out there published this past year, which you can look at in this article here, which gives the ideal amount of hours for each age group. If you’re attending college, the general guide is 7-9 hours. And that doesn’t mean “In bed by midnight, up by 7 in the morning.” There’s a bit of wiggle room when it comes to falling asleep versus going to bed. And while we’re playing the numbers game…
3. Playing “catch up” doesn’t work
Here’s another article, this one about common sleep myths. The most relevant one, and one I specifically believed for a long time, was that you could make up for lost hours during the week with some kind of long weekend sleep. The fact is, it doesn’t work like that, and chronic sleep loss can only be cured by you consistently keeping a decent schedule of 7-9 hours.
4. Electronics (or specifically, their light) are the enemy
Another article identifies a culprit that’s very common in college: Your digital devices. Specifically, your TV, your phone and your laptop. It’s the glow they give off that keeps you awake, tricking your body into thinking that it has to stay alert. So avoid working on your laptop or checking your phone too much before bed, or if you must, turn the brightness down. In fact, in the hours before sleeping, turn all of your lights down. It’ll help your body shut down.
5. Shower and clean yourself up before bed
So what should you be doing, instead? Well, if you’re in Massage Therapy, you know how useful they are for relaxing, but that’s not exactly practical in the late hours of the night. There’s a lengthy piece on the site about how to reboot your sleep cycle, and it suggests you spend time washing up, brushing your teeth, showering and anything else you need to do to get clean. It’ll get you in the sleeping mood.
6. Watch what you drink
There’s nothing really wrong with using coffee to stay awake (it’s energy drinks you really need to watch out for), but knowing when to cut yourself off is an even more important skill. Food and Nutrition Management students probably know this, but according to a lengthy piece about rebooting your sleep habits, caffeine can stay in your system for upwards of 5 to 10 hours, so breakfast is really the only time you should be doing so. Meanwhile, you may have heard of the idea of a “nightcap,” or alcohol helping you get to sleep. It’s a natural depressant, and will certainly help you fall asleep faster, but as this article reveals, it’s bad for you in the long run, and will stop you from getting proper, deep sleep. So, if something important is happening the next day, skip out on the drinks.
These all seem like small things, but they’re important. College is a place to learn real skills and develop a career, and to do that, you need to have an active mind, ready to learn. Success starts at the beginning of the day, and waking up rested and aware is the first right step.