If you’re a college student, then you know sleep is just one of those rare occurrences. Often times we’re cramming for exams, doing homework, in study groups, or sitting in class. Needless to say, this doesn’t leave much time for other things, including sleep. While there are weeks where I wish I could just constantly stay awake to get things done, it’s just not going to happen. Sleep is incredibly important, especially for college students. It’s a way to both re-charge and de-stress. Most students only get around four to six hours of sleep per night, which can be detrimental considering most doctors suggest eight to nine hours. And while you can’t blow off a midterm or skip a study group, there are ways to get more sleep as a college student. Check out these tips.
Manage Your Class Schedule
A lot of students feel very gung-ho about college once they get there. The problem with this is that these students will often take on a large course load that they can’t manage effectively. This can include too many classes, classes that are too difficult, and even signing up for too many activities like clubs and sports. In order to get enough sleep every night, you need to have a class schedule that isn’t overloaded. Start out easy so that you can get adjusted. The best way to find out what you can take is to talk with your college advisor, especially if you’re a freshman or sophomore. Almost all college advisors have experience with new students and can help them establish a course schedule that’s challenging but not impossible.
Procrastination is the worse thing you can do if you want to get enough sleep. If you wait until the final week to do your political science policy paper that’s supposed to be nine pages long, then you’re setting yourself up for a week of little sleep. As a word to the wise, do not procrastinate. It’s easier said than done, but a way to avoid procrastination is to set written goals for yourself. Just saying it in your head isn’t going to be enough. Type out your goals, print it, and post it in a place you’ll see it often. Make your goals reasonable and time-oriented. A good example is “I will write the first two pages of my policy paper by Wednesday at 5PM.” Once you set these goals for yourself and start achieving them, you’ll find that you’ll also be getting more sleep because you’ve accomplished what you needed to on time.
Avoid Caffeine and Sugar
I know I’ve done it so many times. I’ll be up until 2AM finishing a project or powerpoint and at 1AM I’ll down about 15 ounces of coffee. Bad, bad idea! While it may give me a boost in the home stretch of my project, it’s going to keep on going well into the early morning hours. If you plan to hit the hay within an hour or two, stay away from any caffeine or sugar that will keep you up. Usually I finish my last cup of coffee four to five hours before I plan on going to bed and it absolutely works miracles when I need to get to sleep.
If you’ve ever been in college then you know the miracle that is the power nap. It’s just a 20-30 minute nap that leaves you refreshed and awake afterward. If you’re finding yourself dragging your feet throughout the day, you may want to head back to your apartment or dorm to take a power nap. Just make sure you set an alarm or you’ll end up sleeping more than you should. As a word of advice, make sure you’re not substituting power naps for actual sleep. They should only be used once or twice a week.
See a Doctor
I don’t want to say that if you’re not getting enough sleep then there’s something wrong with you. However, if you find that you’re just exhausted all the time and you are getting an adequate amount of sleep, it might not hurt to get things checked out. College puts a lot of stress on both our body and mind. It wasn’t until college that I was diagnosed with excessive daytime sleepiness, which needed to be treated with medication. Going to my doctor about it was a good decision because I was able to find ways to keep it minimal.