College students aren’t exactly known for their “early to bed, early to rise” attitudes, but getting sleep is an integral part of staying healthy. As the semester begins to wind down, it can feel like there is a lot to get done. For those of you who are graduating, there may be an added pressure to get as much as you can out of your final days here.
The problem is, you’re not going to get a lot done if you’re acting like an extra from the cast of “The Walking Dead.” Here are some tips to help you make the most out of the rest of the semester.
Take a nap. If you have the time during the day a short nap can do wonders for your energy levels. Just make sure not to nap too close to bedtime or for too long. Thirty minutes to an hour should be plenty.
Don’t work in bed. You want to associate your bed with sleep, not transcendentalist poetry. Studying late into the night in your bed makes it that much harder for your brain to shut down when the lights go out.
Get a full night’s rest whenever possible. We get it, it’s hard to get enough sleep in college. Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep to feel rested, though, so do the best you can to get a full night’s sleep whenever possible.
Stick to a schedule. With varying work and class schedules, it can be difficult to stick to a routine. Plus there’s that one sweet day when you don’t have class until 3 p.m. Sleep all day! No. Don’t do that. The closer you can get to sleeping at night and being awake during the day, on a regular basis, the better you will feel. A consistent routine is the enemy of insomnia.
Understand that lack of sleep can have a big impact. Lack of sleep impacts just about everything in your life, be it your mood, concentration, or even your appetite. If you start noticing that you are feeling “off,” check in with your sleep routine to see if you can change something up.
Avoid all-nighters. Contrary to the widely-held popular belief, all-nighters are not, in fact, an effective study method. Your brain consolidates everything you learn when you go through R.E.M. cycles as you sleep. If you don’t sleep after studying, all that work will disappear. Instead of remembering the history of the Civil War, you’ll be stuck with that late night TV psychic’s theme song. I still think about you, Miss Cleo.
Avoid caffeine, eating and drinking right before bed. Caffeine is the obvious offender, but even eating a big meal or drinking before bed can interfere with your sleep. Also, while alcohol can make it easy to fall asleep, research clearly shows that the quality and amount of sleep you get after a night out is significantly poorer.
It’s normal to have difficulty finding a balance with everything you need to do in college. As always, if it feels like you’re having a hard time making things work, or you feel like you’re struggling with insomnia, the folks at the University Counseling Center can help.
Joselyne Perry is the Campus Wellness Coordinator at Pacific’s counseling center on Cedar Street.