Are You Getting 7 to 8 Hours of Sleep Every Night?
If you answered no, you are not alone. Around 70% of students report that they don’t get enough sleep, and more than 50% of students report daytime drowsiness.
A lack of sleep can affect your academic performance. The good news is that making even small changes to your sleep habits can have a big impact. Getting a good night’s sleep as regularly as possible will positively affect your mood, your memory, and your grades.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Most adults need around eight hours of sleep per night. Even if you don’t feel it, a lack of sleep has negative effects on your mind and body. If you feel refreshed in the morning and awake during the day, you are probably getting enough sleep. To find out how much sleep you need, let yourself wake without an alarm for three days in a row and average the hours.
Sleep Well to Study Well
Sleep is critical for learning and memory. The process of learning is actively taken up by your brain during sleep, especially during the REM stage. Sleep is essential for long-term memory formation and it is during sleep that memory consolidation and enhancement occurs.
Students Who Pull All-nighters Tend to Have Lower GPAs
Staying up late to study is not good for your grades. Your performance starts to decline after 15-16 hours of continuous wakefulness. After being up all night, you are less alert between 6-11 AM.
Plan to study over more days instead of cramming the night before an exam. A good night sleep before a test leads to better memory recall and improved performance.
Staying well-rested will allow you to maintain your focus while studying during the day, and you won’t feel like needing to nap because of too little sleep the night before.
Sleep and Health
Sleep restores you physically, mentally, and emotionally, playing a critical role in your health—including in immune function, metabolism, memory, and learning.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation Can Increase Your Risk Of
Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
Develop Good Habits
Create a bedtime routine that will help you sleep. Turn off electronics before bed and set aside time for winding down, doing an activity that you enjoy such as reading or listening to music. If you have early classes on some days, try not to sleep in on the others. Avoid napping too late in the day. Experts say a regular schedule is the most essential element of a healthy sleep routine.
Set Your Alarm Clock to Go off in the Evening
This will remind you to go to bed at a reasonable time. That way you are less likely to need it in the morning (if you always need an alarm clock to wake up, you are not sleeping enough).
Problems with insomnia can arise from a lack of proper nutrients.
Have a Light Snack in the Evening
Going to bed hungry or eating a heavy meal close to bedtime can keep you up. Try drinking a glass of milk – it contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that stimulates the brain chemical serotonin, believed to play a key role in inducing sleep. Eating carbohydrates, like a slice of whole wheat bread, enhances the effect.
Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Caffeine at Least Three Hours Before Bedtime
While alcohol does help people get to sleep faster, do not use it as a sleeping aid. Drinking has been shown to result in a restless, low quality of sleep that causes fragmented sleep (measured by nighttime awakenings) and reduces the time spent in deep sleep. Nicotine is a stimulant, and smokers may wake up several times a night due to nicotine withdrawal. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate, is also a stimulant and can keep you from falling asleep. If you are having a difficult time sleeping, avoid all caffeine after 2 PM. As little as two cups of coffee can interfere with sleep.
Do Not Take Over-the-counter Sleep Medications
It is always a good idea to address the underlying causes of your sleep difficulties. Talk to your health care provider and/or visit Student Wellness Centre for assessment and to discuss available sleep treatments. Relying on pills to stay awake or to fall asleep is dangerous. Students who use caffeine pills often experience stomach distress.
Get Some Sunlight and Exercise
Natural light influences the body’s internal clock and exposure to sunlight during the day can help you fall asleep at night. Regularly exercising about thirty minutes, several times per week can help you fall asleep and sleep more soundly.
Avoid Using Electronics Late at Night
Not only will the content stimulate your brain, the brightness of the screen is comparable to a morning walk in the sun when it comes to waking you up. Don’t keep your phone beside your bed.
Associate Your Bed with Sleep
Try not to study or watch TV on your bed. Go to bed only when sleepy. If you cannot sleep, get up and do something else, like reading a book.
Make Your Bedroom Sleep-friendly
Keep your bedroom slightly cool, dark, and quiet. Use ear plugs if necessary. White noise created by a fan can block out other sounds and help you fall asleep. Invest in comfortable bedding.
Manage Your Thoughts
Keep a journal besides your bed where you can write down persistent thoughts, worries, or to-do lists for the next day. Take time to think about what you write down and try to resolve issues at another time.
Relax Before Going to Bed
Try soaking in a hot bath. When you leave the tub, your core body temperature drops, signaling your body that it is time to sleep. Avoid extreme temperatures in the room. Relaxation strategies like meditation, deep breathing, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation can help.
What about a Sleep Diary?
An interesting resource some people find helpful to keep track of their sleeping habits is starting a sleep diary. Not only is the diary helpful for your own sleep knowledge, but it can help your health providers diagnose a sleep disorder.
Note in your sleep diary when you get into bed, what time you try to fall asleep, how long it took to fall asleep, how many times you woke up in the night, what time you woke up, what time you got up, and how you would rate your sleep quality.