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From partying, eating junk food, and chugging caffeinated beverages, staying up late studying, the college lifestyle is not conducive to healthy habits-especially sleep. According to a survey 70% of students at the University of South Florida sleep less than 8 hours a night.
Sleep is not prioritized in college, although it should be. Lack of sleep leads to future health issues, memory problems, increased risk of anxiety/depression, and lowers the immune system. Not only can sleep deprivation and poor sleep impact your health, it can also impact your academic performance. Proper sleep is directly connected to increased academic performance.
During your college years, there are countless ways for your sleep to become disrupted. If you’re tired of being tired and are struggling with sleep while in college, keep on reading for some sleep advice specially catered to college students.
For more tips, skip to the infographic below.
Drinking alcohol is a common part of the college experience. Doing so can be equally fun and dangerous. Despite the obvious dangers of alcohol, going a little too hard at the bar can impact your sleep.
Many mistakenly believe alcohol helps us sleep-it does exactly the opposite. The more you drink, the faster you’ll fall asleep but that sleep will lack quality. Studies show that college students who regularly drink alcohol experience lower sleep quality than those who do not. It’s possible to still partake in alcohol socially while maintaining healthy sleep.
With changing schedules each semester and unexpected events, it can be hard to keep the same schedule. Studies show that inconsistent sleep schedules can decrease sleep efficiency and time asleep in university students.If you find that you’re often tired, look at your sleep schedule. You’ll want to maintain as much consistency in your sleep schedule as possible, even though it’s common to have the occasional late night or early morning. To keep your sleep in check, try as much as you can, to go to sleep at the same time every night.
College students run on caffeine. A 2019 study concluded 92% of college students interviewed consumed caffeine on a regular basis. While your morning cup of joe won’t leave you staring at the clock at night, stopping for an afternoon caffeine boost can. Research shows that consuming caffeine only 6 hours before bedtime can interfere with your sleep.
For long nights and early mornings going to class and submitting projects, a power nap is a must for those who need an energy boost. If you’re feeling groggy and still have the rest of the day to get through, take a power nap. Taking a short power nap during the day has shown to improve memory and alertness. Keep your power naps about 15-20 minutes long to get the most out of them. Sleeping any longer will leave you feeling sluggish and even more tired.
In crowded dorms and packed libraries, it can be difficult to find a place to do your homework so many students will make their bed their desk. While this might be comfortable, doing so can rewire your brain to associate the bedroom with school and schoolwork, which may cause insomnia, sleep anxiety, and decrease productivity, according to the American College of Healthcare Sciences. Avoid doing homework in bed and use a desk or dining room table.
Watching TV, scrolling through your phone, or playing video games before bed can be a great way to relax and wreck your sleep. Blue light from screens affects us the same as sunlight and can keep you awake-that’s why you tend to feel more awake while scrolling through your phone.
Like alcohol consumption and lack of sleep, college students are also not known for their healthy diets (there’s a reason why the Freshman 15 happens to many)! College is the first time young adults are away from home and have the freedom to make their own dietary choices which are often poor.
It can be tempting to eat pizza every day and take advantage of the free food often available on campuses. Doing so can lead to an increased waistline as well as decreased sleep. Deficiencies in vital nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K are linked to sleep problems. Have the best of both worlds by including fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
If you’re living in a dorm or even in an apartment in a busy area, it can get loud when you’re trying to sleep. Noise from loud roommates, nearby parties, or background noise might make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. If the sounds of college are keeping you awake, try listening to white noise while you sleep.
White noise blocks out sounds that keep you awake making it difficult to fall asleep. Studies have shown that white noise can increase sleep quality and help you fall asleep. White noise machines are available almost everywhere. There are also numerous playlists on Spotify with white noise and other relaxing sounds.
College can be stressful. Many students struggle to find healthy ways to manage stress while in college and end up relying on unhealthy coping methods like alcohol and drugs. Finding healthy ways to manage stress is essential for your mental health and good sleep. Sleep deprivation is a common side effect of stress. This causes cortisol and adrenaline levels to rise, making sleep difficult.
If you’re experiencing issues with your mental health, free counseling services are available at many schools. Check with your university health services and don’t be afraid to get help if you need it.
On college campuses, it’s common to find students abusing stimulant medication used to treat ADD and ADHD like Adderall. Referred to as “study drugs”, students prescribed these medications will sell them to others who abuse them illegally. A landmark study on the issue conducted by the University of Kentucky found that 34% of students interviewed reported the illegal use of Adderall.
The medication increases focus and keeps you awake, making it the perfect drug for students to abuse during long nights studying. While the drug has legitimate uses and helps many manage their ADHD symptoms, Adderall abuse is linked to health problems like trouble sleeping, increased heart rate, and stomach issues. It may be tempting to partake in “study drugs” when you have a big assignment or during finals, however, the stimulant properties of Adderall can be deadly.
Despite the late nights and penchant for caffeine, college students are capable of getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It all boils down to how you manage yourself, your time, and the decisions you make. Remember, you’re at college to learn, but it’s still possible to have a good time and maintain your health.
Looking for even more sleep tips beyond college? Visit our website and blog to learn more!