This weekend marked the true harbinger of winter time – changing our clocks from daylight savings time back to standard time. The bad news is: it gets dark earlier. I personally hate walking out of 4:00 class and discovering that while I sat inside listening to the professor drone on about Art History, the sun has set and darkness has fallen. The good news is: This is the perfect opportunity to try and keep that resolution you made at the beginning of the year – the one where you resolved that this year, you would go to sleep earlier. Really.
Scientific research actually backs up what you already knew: that getting enough sleep matters. A study this year in the Journal of Adolescent Health queried 1,000 undergraduates about their sleep habits. The diaries they kept showed a disturbing trend: College students are getting 45 minutes less sleep per night than they did 40 years ago and two hours less than the nine recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. Moreover, 60% of students used stimulants and 18% used medication or alcohol to overcome their natural sleep-wake cycle and try to balance their studies, jobs, and social life.
What all this means for us college students is that sleep deprivation is an epidemic. And all these irregular sleep patterns and sleep deprivation can lead to depression, headaches, deteriorating academic performance, and, of course, drowsiness – which in turn can lead to car accidents.
So here are a few tips to take charge of your sleep habits so you can do your best – academically, socially, and athletically – in college.
- Avoid that “all-nighter”: You won’t do better on that exam by staying up all night studying, because not only is sleep a time to rest, it is a dynamic activity that is essential to helping your memory and intellectual performance.
- Make a sleep schedule: Take control of your daily schedule by trying to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time each morning – even on the weekends.
- Work out what you need: Buy new linens; get a cushy mattress topper; use a white noise machine. And don’t use what you don’t need – in the long run, using pills and alcohol to control when you wake or sleep will backfire.
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Keep these tips in mind, and see your nighttime and daytime routine improve.
Good Luck & Good Night!