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General Better Sleep Tips
Better Sleep Tips for College Students
A study from the Journal of Adolescent Health revealed that just 30 percent of students get in their eight hours of sleep a night, the average requirement for young adults. And a study at Stanford University showed that 80% of students were seriously sleep deprived, racking up sleep “debt” from continual disruption of sleep patterns.
One reason for this is those all-nighters to cram for exams. 20% of college students stay up all night at least once a month, and 35% stay up past 3:00 am at least once a week. The result is that 12% of students who don’t sleep well miss class three or more times a month or fall asleep in class. With lack of sleep comes health issues, including anxiety, a compromised immune system, and even weight gain.
Sleep education is key. Students need to understand how important sleep is to their overall health, both mental and physical. Here’s what college students and their parents should know:
• The body and brain work on a biological clock, which causes us to have 24-hour fluctuations in temperature, hormones and many other physiological functions. This biological clock regulates a sleep and wakefulness cycle that provides signals to the brain. When the sleep cycle is interrupted, the biological clock gets out of whack. The body feels sleepy when it should be awake, and awake when it should be sleepy.
• When you feel drowsy, get some sleep. Drowsiness is the sign that you are about to fall asleep. Use the drowsy signal as a warning and don’t fight it. Your health is more important than any activity that is taking you away from sleep. Imagine being drowsy when you are driving, this can be disastrous.
• Sleep allows a shutdown of the neural processes that allow us to disengage from the environment. In this state the body can rest and rejuvenate to prepare for the next waking time. When we have sufficient sleep, we are more awake, alert, and aware.
• Understand that we need both a quantity of sleep, and a quality of sleep. Sleep is both restorative and rejuvenating—your body requires deep sleep to function optimally.
To get a good night’s sleep, try implementing these strategies:
• As much as possible, stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning.
• The room you sleep in should be dedicated to rest and sleep. Study at the library, or in a different room other than where you have your bed. Keep electronics, like cell phones, televisions, and laptops, out of your sleeping room. Keep your room clutter free.
• Be mindful of your sleep environment. Keep the room cool and dark when you are sleeping. Make sure your mattress is in good condition and comfortable for you. Any mattress more than five-seven years old needs to be evaluated for wear. Use cotton linens because cotton is a more “breathable” fabric and it is more comfortable next to your skin.
• What you do during the day affects how you sleep at night. Exercise at least 30 minutes daily. And also be sure to get some sunshine every day. This helps the biological clock to determine the difference between waking hours and sleeping hours.
• Maintain a healthy diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol, especially in the hours before bedtime. Refrain from eating late-night snacks. When you eat too close to bedtime, your body is occupied digesting instead of settling down into sleep.
• Get into a routine of “winding down” before sleep. Take a warm bath or shower, and listen to relaxing music. Avoid stimulating activity like computer work.
By developing good sleep habits you’ll find that you are healthier and happier. And an added benefit: A study from the College Student Journal reports a significant correlation between students who get sufficient sleep and higher grade point averages.
Parts of this article were contributed from todaysparentusa.com.