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Heading to college is a major change in our lives. We no longer live with our parents, and can’t rely on them to prepare our meals, wake us up on time in the morning, do our laundry, wash the dishes, and do other things. When we go to college, we are responsible for everything we do. College is a time of change, and it helps us learn how to be independent and how to do things on our own. We also have the opportunity to meet new people and explore interesting ideas and activities. It is not a surprise that some people consider it the most exciting period of their lives. However, as a result of all this excitement, sleep often doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.
Students often forget that they need to get at least seven hours of shut-eye each night, and as a consequence, they are sleep-deprived on a regular basis. They tend to take pride in being night owls and waking up early in the morning after only a few hours of rest. Getting enough sleep can be especially difficult for college students as they have a lot going on. Although it may seem to them that it is not possible to sleep well in college and still have good grades and excellent social life, it is possible. Students face many obstacles to getting proper rest, such as stress, overbooked schedule, noisy roommates, and more, but sleep is essential, and it is the key to staying healthy, maximizing the academic potential and sustaining new friendships. Keep in mind that dorm life doesn’t have to result in restless nights. Here are some useful tips that can help you get enough sleep regularly:
Transform Your College Dorm into a Sleep Sanctuary
If you want to sleep well, you need a sleep-supportive environment. There are many ways in which you can accomplish this goal. Some of the things that you can do include:
Choose the Room Colors
Sharing a small room with a stranger you just met is something that you need to get used to. These tiny rooms can start feeling overcrowded and tight very quickly, which is not perfect for relaxing. If you want to make your room feel more relaxing and look a bit bigger, you should opt for a soft color palette. Busy patterns and bright colors can make your room feel even more cluttered, and they also don’t stimulate sleep. On the other hand, calming soft room colors can have a positive impact on the quality and duration of shut-eye.
Make Sure Your Room is Dark
If you want to increase the chances of getting enough good night’s rest, you need to ensure that your room is dark. Sometimes even the slightest bit of light can have an adverse impact on your rest, no matter if it is because of the digital alarm clock, or the streetlight from the outside. If you want to make sure that your body produces enough sleep hormones it needs, you should do everything you can to keep your room completely dark. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to close the blinds or add blackout curtains. Very often, curtains and drapes in dorm rooms are transparent, and they don’t block out the outside light very well, which can disrupt your sleep. You should get new drapes that are thick and won’t let the light in while you sleep.
Upgrade Your Bed
College dorms provide the students with a bed frame and a mattress, but these mattresses are usually not of good quality, and people have been sleeping on them for years. Very often, they are not very comfortable, and they are beyond their lifespan. One of the most significant investments that you can make when moving into your dorm is to buy a new mattress. Old and uncomfortable mattresses can contribute to poor sleep, back problems, and more, and can have an impact on your health and academic performance. Don’t worry; you can find great models at affordable prices. In case you can’t afford a new mattress, or can’t buy one because it isn’t allowed, another solution is to get a mattress pad. These pads will not only give a new feel to an old bed but also protect the mattress from further damage. You should also consider getting a new pillow that matches your firmness and thickness preferences, and that will fit well with your sleep position. Dorm pillows are often old, and they may contain mold and other allergens that can disrupt your sleep, and they lack the comfort.
Make Sure Your Room Smells Nice
Most students who live in a college dorm are not used to household responsibilities such as doing the laundry and cleaning. The lack of these habits can result in an unpleasant odor that can develop in your room over time, or in the building. If you notice that your room smells funky, you should do something about it. For example, you should stock up on cleaning supplies that have a fresh and pleasant smell. College rooms often get dirty very quickly as they are small, and two or more people without cleaning habits live in them. If you want to avoid staying in a smelly room, you need to buy cleaning supplies with fresh smell for your bathroom and furniture. You will sleep much more comfortably if your room is clean, dust-free and smells nice.
Another thing that you should consider is using essential oils. You can choose from a wide variety of fragrances, and they have affordable prices. You can also purchase cheap oil diffuser. Not only your room will have a pleasant smell, but it will also help you relax and prepare you for sleep.
Consider Using Sleep Gear
In case you need more sleep, it would be a good idea to consider using sleep gear. Earplugs are the most common solutions of students who can’t seem to get adequate rest because of the noise. If you decide to use them, they will block out the noise from the outside and inside, including sounds coming from your roommate or residence hall. They are very cheap, and you can find them at almost any drugstore. Another excellent solution is a sleep mask, as these masks block out inside and outside light and give you the darkness that you need to get enough good night’s sleep.
Buy Some Plants
If you want to improve your mood and make your room feel more like at home, it would be an excellent idea to consider buying a couple of houseplants and place them around your room. Not only the place will be more comfortable and feel more natural, but it will also help you sleep better. Some plants are very easy to take care of, and they are ideal for purifying the air.
Improve Your Habits and Sleep Hygiene
When it comes to sleeping in college, if you want to improve the duration and quality of shut-eye, you should establish good habits and proper daily routines. Some of the things that can help you sleep better at night include:
Avoid Caffeine and Energy Drinks
You already know that caffeine keeps you awake; that’s why you probably consume it. However, you are probably not aware that it can keep you up almost 8 hours later. That’s why you shouldn’t have caffeine too late in the day. Otherwise, it can disrupt your sleep. It is the best idea to avoid drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages after 4 or 5 p.m. If you need an energy lift later, you should take a walk. Drink juice, water, or any other beverage that is free of caffeine in the late afternoon and evening. Another common way to fight sleep deprivation is opting for energy drinks. However, eating fruits and exercising a bit will have the same effect, and these things won’t keep you up at night.
Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol
Many students start drinking in college; it is very common. However, you need to be careful not to overdo it as something like this can have severe consequences. Besides drinking reasonable amounts of alcohol, you should also be careful not to do it in the evening. If you don’t want alcohol to disrupt your sleep quality, don’t consume it at least a few hours before going to bed. It will make you feel tired and hungry, and it maybe makes sense that it will help you sleep better at night, but it has a completely positive effect. Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, but as you sober up at night, you will fail to get enough deep sleep, which will have an adverse impact on you.
Limit the Screen Time
Maybe you are not aware of this, but the blue light from television, tablets, smartphones, and computers stimulates the brain and can disrupt our circadian rhythm. Although many college students tend to check their phones a lot throughout the day, you should avoid it at least one or two hours before sleep. It may sound difficult to accomplish, but it will have a significant positive impact on your sleep patterns. If you avoid using electronic devices before going to bed, it will help your brain prepare for sleep. Don’t let your phone get in a way of your ZZZ’s. If you need help falling asleep, you should read a book, listen to relaxing music, or write about your pre-bedtime habits in a sleep diary.
Keep a Sleep Schedule
If you go to bed at the same time every evening, over time your body will get used to this schedule, and you will become tired at specific times, based on this habit. On the other hand, if you switch your schedule constantly, your body will have a hard time determining when the right time for sleep is. Of course, something like this can be hard to do in college, which is not surprising with so much going on, especially during the exam period, but you need to do your best to accomplish this.
Be Careful with Daily Naps
Taking a nap is a perfect way for students to give themselves a quick boost from a busy academic day. Daily napping can be quite beneficial as they won’t feel sleepy anymore, and they will feel refreshed, full of energy, and be able to cope with different academic challenges that await them. However, the best time for taking a nap is early afternoon, or after lunch. If you decide to take a nap in the evening or the late afternoon, it will probably mess with your sleep. Also, your naps shouldn’t be longer than one hour, but it is the best idea to limit them to 30 minutes.
Consider Making a To-Do List
If you tend to worry a lot, and are under stress most of the time, making a to-do list can help you. If you write down your obligations and other things that you need to do, you won’t have to worry about them as you will be able to organize your time better and take care of all these things without stressing out about them. Something like this will have a positive impact on your stress levels, and it will help you relax and fall asleep in the evening. You can also make a list of things that you have done during the day, as it can help you reflect on positive things and it will put you in a positive mood. If you still have troubles relaxing and sleeping, and are still under a lot of stress, breathing exercises can help you relax.
College Students and Sleep – Why is it Important?
Unfortunately, most students don’t pay enough attention to sleep and don’t make it their top priority. As a result, their health and academic performance can suffer. Sleep is the key to staying healthy and being at the top of their game. Reasons why sleep is vital for college students include:
Sleep Affects Your Grades
If you want to get good grades and remember what you have learned in classes, you need to get at least seven hours of shut-eye. The amount of rest that students get has an impact on their academic success. Sleep prevents the decay of memories and helps students learn new things and consolidate memories. When they don’t get enough rest, they need to work harder, but won’t achieve the same results. According to research, students with irregular sleep schedules are more likely to have lower grades.
Sleep Impacts Your Mood
When students lack rest, they tend to be more hostile and irritable, and they get stressed easily. When things don’t go their way, sleep-deprived students are more likely to react negatively. On the other hand, when they are well-rested, they are in a better mood and react better to different challenges that they face.
Lack of Sleep Affects You in More Ways Than You Realize
Other consequences of rest deprivation include:
- Higher risk of depression
- Impaired athletic performance
- Low energy
- Poor focus
- Impaired creativity
- Increased risk of injuries
- Cognitive impairment
- Weight gain
- Higher risk of illnesses
- Lowered immune system
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Renata is an economist who has always had a passion for writing. She is a dog lover, Netflix addict and a sleepaholic. When she is not busy doing sleep research, she spends her time reading books, hiking and playing video games.