If you’re like me, the school year feels like it’s filled with back-to-back finals, late night study sessions and more trips to Starbucks than you’d care to admit. It can all be a blur and it’s easy for students to forget one very important thing: sleep. Sleep is vital to a healthy mind and body, but when life becomes hectic, it tends to fall to the bottom of our to do list.
It’s easy to become so caught up with papers, projects and finals that we forget to rest our bodies. In fact, many college students don’t get nearly enough hours of sleep each night and ‘sleep debt’ can start to accumulate. In an ideal world, we’d all get eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, but realistically that’s not always going to happen. What’s important is making sure you’re able to get as much quality sleep as possible, even if it isn’t a full eight hours.
Not getting enough sleep can have serious side effects. Lack of concentration, daytime fatigue and decreased efficiency are just a few symptoms. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep is crucial to proper brain function and effects how well you think and react. While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. Studies show that a good nights sleep improves learning potential, and a lack of sleep can negatively alter your brain activity. This alteration can result in difficulties when it comes to decision-making and problem solving.
Sleep is also crucial to a healthy lifestyle. It provides the valuable energy needed throughout the day to stay active. According to campusmindworks.org, student sleep deprivation has even been linked to lower GPAs.
The human body was not designed for back-to-back all-nighters or an endless intake of Red Bull. God ordained us to rest and even commands it. The Bible says in Leviticus, “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest…” (Leviticus 23:3, NLT). A good nights sleep is no exception. A solid night’s rest and good cup of morning coffee is crucial to your health and happiness (OK, so the cup of coffee isn’t really necessary, but it certainly helps). If you can’t get a full eight hours of sleep, you’re certainly not alone. There are several ways that you can try to maximize the crucial hours of sleep you get each night.
1) Reduce caffeine intake. Don’t get me wrong, I love my morning coffee. While some caffeine is fine, try to limit your intake later in the day, since this can potentially disrupt sleep. Try to stay away from caffeine four to five hours before bedtime.
2) Exercise! Studies show that exercise not only promotes a good nights rest it also reduces stress. Even just 30 minutes of exercise a day can increase your sleep. Just make sure you don’t exercise right before bedtime as this can leave you feeling wired.
3) Turn off technology. Try to minimize technology 30 minutes before bedtime. This time away from the TV screen can help you wind down and makes it easier to fall asleep.
4) Try to stick to a “sleeping schedule.” It might sound silly, but having a similar wake up and bedtime each day will help your body get used to following a schedule. However, you may find that most weekends and busier weekdays your “sleep schedule” has to be adjusted.
Now that it’s summer, try using those four tips to build good habits to conquer school again in the fall, and maybe even miss fewer of those 8 a.m. classes.
Have more tips you’d like to share? Continue the conversation with Shayla on Twitter @shaylagthatsme