Sleep can often either be a college student's best friend or worst enemy. For many, it is a cycle that needs to be reestablished every semester by adjusting to new class schedules, trying to fit in power naps, juggling varying amounts of work and dealing with social lives on and off campus. Regardless of when you can find time for relaxation and how many hours you have, there is no doubt that every ounce of sleep is especially precious to college students.
Sleep is beneficial in more ways than meet the eye. Of course, the right amount of sleep helps you feel rejuvenated to take on tomorrow's daily routine, but it can also work wonders to help your body in other ways.
According to Harvard Women's Health Watch, the importance of sleep is crucial. Enough sleep will help learning and memory, quicken metabolism and can lower weight, increase alertness throughout the day, improve mood and cardiovascular health and to help boost immune function and fight disease.
"I think I have a pretty healthy relationship with sleeping. I usually get enough sleep every night so I'm not dead tired the next day," sophomore Ryan Milligan said. "If I get too much or too little sleep, I'm too overtired to get anything done."
Although relating sleep to cardiovascular health and fighting disease may not seem relevant now to college students, it may very well become significant later in life as habits of sleep cycles are created throughout our four years.
"I do love to nap, but it's mostly because no matter how much I sleep, I never feel like I get enough," freshman Sara Barsky said. "For some reason sleeping during the day is easy for me but sleeping at night is difficult. I can sleep for three or four hours when I nap during the day. I pretty much just try to sleep when I have the time, which as a college student can be hard to come by."
Helene Emsellem, MD associate clinical professor of neurology at George Washington University Medical Center, details tips for getting enough rest and sleeping more soundly. She suggests setting a regular bedtime, decaffeinating yourself six to eight hours before bed, destressing yourself with meditation or a hot shower, exercising early in the day to relieve muscle tension and by making your bed a sleep haven where you are not involving yourself in any other activities while trying to fall asleep. Although creating a regular bedtime could be difficult for college students that have assignments that keep us up late, it is worth trying to spread out homework so it does not cause late, sleepless nights.
On the other hand, sometimes too much sleep can be a problem, and according to WebMD, sleeping too much as time goes on could result in diabetes, headaches, obesity, back pain, depression and heart disease. The aforementioned sleep habits, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, avoiding technology in your bed before sleep, and keeping your bedtime and wakeup time as regular as possible could help you achieve the best sleep cycle possible.
Preventing possible sleep-related issues in the future can be as simple as changing your present sleep routine. According to helpguide.org, adults 18 and over need approximately seven and a half to nine hours of sleep a night in order to establish a healthy regimen.