It’s getting close to midnight, and you’re still up studying for an exam you have at 8 a.m. the next day. You’re trying so hard to concentrate when you get invited to grab some food at late night, which sounds much more appealing. When you get back, you become distracted by the TV show your roommate is watching and end up having a long conversation. Before you know it, it’s 2 a.m., and you still have yet to get much studying done. So you head back to your textbooks, grab an energy drink and prepare yourself for an all-nighter.
For college students, a good night’s sleep can be very difficult to obtain. Between a never-ending workload and a countless number of distractions, getting the recommended 8 hours seems impossible at times. But to keep your mind and body healthy, it’s extremely important to rest up.
According to the National Institutes of Health, adults need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to be well rested. Studies have shown, however, that the average adult sleeps fewer than 7 hours a night. So what can be done to achieve a more restful sleep?
First of all, try to develop a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. That coffee might have seemed like a good idea when you were struggling to keep your eyes open in your night class, but avoid caffeine and nicotine in order to fall asleep easier.
Thinking about exercising at night? Don’t if you want to get a better night of sleep. Staying away from alcoholic drinks or large meals and beverages before bed will also help you sleep more peacefully. Also, if you decide to take a nap at 3 p.m. or later, you’re most likely going to regret it later that night.
Lastly, spend time relaxing before you go to bed. Make sure your sleeping environment is free of distraction, such as loud noises and bright lights. Adjusting your day-to-day routines will ultimately make you feel well-rested.
Junior Megan Muller said she tries to get about 7 hours of sleep every night because of her schedule.
“I have early classes every day of the week, and on the weekends I have to be up early to work,” she said. “I can’t function without enough sleep. It definitely affects my performance in class.”
The National Institutes of Health states that cutting back by even 1 hour can make it tough to focus the next day and slow your response time. When you lack sleep, you are more likely to make bad decisions, which can result in poor performance on the job or at school and a greater risk for an accident or car crash.
Studies show that not getting enough sleep or getting a poor quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and other medical conditions. Also, the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese, develop diabetes and eat unhealthy foods.
Not only does sleep affect performance and health, but it also impacts your mood. Insufficient sleep can make you irritable and is linked to poor behavior and trouble with relationships. People who chronically lack sleep are also more likely to become depressed.
“Sleep keeps me motivated and coherent,” Muller said.
While it may seem difficult at times to get the recommended amount of sleep as a hardworking college student, doing so will only improve your quality of life.