As students, I’m sure many of you have seen the meme floating around social media networks that states the difficulty students face when trying to satisfy their needs for good grades, an active social life and getting enough sleep.
Achieving all three can seem nearly impossible. But, if sleep is made a priority, the chances of getting good grades and having a healthy social life could be significantly improved.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) states that “college students who pull ‘all-nighters’ are more likely to have a lower GPA” and have difficulties with normal functions during the daytime.
College students are among the most sleep-deprived people in the country, with only 11 percent of students getting the recommended amount of sleep. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night for adults, something many students are hard pressed to find time for.
Here are a few habits that could help:
Don’t look at screens right before bed
It’s tempting to fall directly into slumber after a Netflix binge or texting with your friends, but sleep studies show looking at technological screens directly influences sleep quality.
The Huffington Post cites multiple sleep studies that show looking at a screen can make it take longer to fall asleep and lessen much needed REM sleep.
Furthermore, keep your phone out of direct reach. Almost 65 percent of young adults sleep with their phone right next to them. While people may not realize it, your brain is constantly disrupted by the flashing lights of your phone. Get a separate alarm clock and if your phone has a Do Not Disturb function, use it.
Have a routine
When you decide to go to bed, make a routine to wind down. Brush your teeth, put your pajamas on and read a print book. “It is best to go to bed and wake up at the same times on the weekend as you do during the school week,” says AASM.
Even though it’s tempting to catch up on lost sleep from during the week, sleeping in, even on the weekends, makes maintaining a sleep routine difficult and can make it harder to wake up early again on Monday mornings.
Choose carefully what you eat before bed
Never eat a large meal right before bed, but this doesn’t mean you don’t need to go to bed hungry. Funded by the National Sleep Foundation, Sleep.org provides healthy recipes for light snacks at least 45 minutes before bed. These include items like warm milk, yogurt, oatmeal or cottage cheese.
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
As a student, coffee fueled all-nighters are sometimes a must, but you’ll be paying the consequences later on. Caffeine “can give you more energy, [but] it still doesn’t make up for lost sleep” writes Sleep.org.
And what’s worse, caffeine before bed can take away from its affects the next morning, creating a vicious cycle of caffeine overuse and withdrawal. Alcohol is also known to disrupt REM sleep in a similar manner as caffeine.
Take naps the right way
On days when you have five papers due, an exam the next morning and your boss yelled at you for being late to work, sometimes coming home and wrapping yourself in your blankets for the evening is entirely necessary. However, there are more beneficial ways to nap.
The length of your nap determines the benefits. Between 20 and 90 minutes can give you a quick energy boost and improve your mood, but longer than that can lead your brain into REM sleep and make you feel even more tired when you wake up.
Set an alarm to make sure you stay within that time frame and try to nap before 3 p.m. so it doesn’t disrupt your evening sleep routine.
So get some sleep! It will do you good.