Colleges and universities are in session and students are dealing with living on their own, managing schedules, cooking, laundry, school work and, of course social activities. The accompanying stress can build up fast. Frequently, sleep is the one of the first things that students let slide in favor of everything else they need to get done. Unfortunately, that lack of sleep that can cause more difficulties.
Getting enough sleep is critical to success. On average, college students get roughly 6 hours of sleep per night—and that’s not enough. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep and adults (18-60) should get 7 hours in any 24-hour period. Giving up 2 hours of sleep a night over a couple of weeks can be as detrimental to mental and physical health as staying awake for 48 hours at a time.
Sleep is important. It’s during sleep that the body heals and repairs the damages of the day. Ongoing loss of sleep impairs the immune system, making it harder to fight off upper respiratory infections like colds, flu or even Covid 19. Irritation and mood changes, reduced attention span, short term memory issues, lack of energy, slowed thinking can all be linked to deficient sleep.
Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier for students to get quality sleep.
- Avoid caffeine, large meals and alcohol before going to bed. All of these things can disrupt the sleep cycle.
- While it’s hard to turn off screens in a small, shared dorm room, try to limit their use in the hour before lights out.
- Make sure the dorm room is a comfortable temperature and your pillows give the right support.
- Exercise during the day.
- Stay properly hydrated during the day.
- Keep any daytime naps short (30 minutes or so). Longer naps may make it difficult to sleep at night.
- Relax or meditate in the evening before bed.
- If sleep is still a problem, see a doctor to rule out any underlying sleep disorder.
In summary, sleep is important to success in school. While enjoying the college experience, make sure to get enough sleep. Your body will thank you.