Sleep deprivation in college students is a common problem. College students are notorious for being sleep deprived as they try to fit as much activity as possible into their days and nights as possible. Finding just the right balance between rest and waking can improve grades and athletic performance.
Understanding Sleep Deprivation in College Students
Sleep deprivation can be a problem for college students, especially when it comes to learning and memorizing. College is an important time to get enough sleep, as sleep studies have shown that falling asleep and dreaming can help the mind absorb new information. In one particular sleep study, researchers found that to learn better, the body needs to both sleep and dream. The study found that dreaming helps process information, improve memory, help with performance-related tasks, and apply what is learned. To reach your full potential at college, then, it is crucial to get deep sleep.
Problems for Students Who Don't Sleep
Here are a few problems that occur when it comes to sleep deprivation in college students:
- Worse grades: If you're nodding off in class, you are probably missing important lectures, notes and opportunities for learning. A lack of class participation can affect your grades, your ability to learn, and preparedness.
- Health issues: Without enough sleep, you're more likely to get sick, anxious, or develop other health problems, including physical and mental health problems. It will also be harder to be at your optimal level when it comes to sports and athletics.
Sleep Improves Athletic Performance
Getting enough sleep will not only improve grades and memory, but it will also help you reach your full athletic potential. Deep sleep heals the body and restores it from training, allowing you to continue working hard and building muscles or endurance. Sleep also improves mental clarity and decision-making skills that are crucial in playing any sport. If you are tired or finding yourself not performing at your optimal level, this is a good indication that more sleep might be the answer.
How to Get More Sleep in College
Here is a list of ten things to do in college to get more sleep:
- Bring earplugs: When you pack for college, bring earplugs and a sleep mask. These will come in handy whether you need an afternoon nap or live in a loud dorm.
- Sleep regular hours: Try to keep a regular sleep schedule, waking and going to bed at the same time every night.
- Exercise: Getting some physical activity can help you fall asleep at night; most experts say that exercising earlier in the day is better for falling asleep at night, but your body will know best.
- Get off the computer: Give yourself some quiet time before bed without any stimulation of surfing the Internet, writing a paper, or studying. Create a bedtime ritual that is conductive to falling asleep, such as drinking decaffeinated tea or relaxing and talking to a friend.
- Limit substances: Limit alcohol consumption and the use of prescription medications to fall asleep. Also try to stay away from caffeine and using drugs to stay awake.
- Get expert help: Take advantage of the counseling center. Most colleges have a counselor on hand who can help you deal with adjusting to life at school and any of the emotional or psychological problems that might contribute to insomnia.
- Keep your room quiet: If you live in a dorm room make a deal with your roommate that your room is not party central. More than likely, other students will be happy to let you hang out in their rooms for socializing, which allows your room to be more conducive to sleep and study.
- Don't worry: Many students stay up late and night worrying about grades or other problems. Know that the only time you can control is the present moment and worrying is not going to change the past or the future.
- Take an afternoon nap: If you are cramming for a test or doing a study break in the afternoon, allow yourself to take a 20 to 30 minute nap. Use an alarm clock to wake yourself and be sure to schedule in some full nights of sleep during the week.
- Limit all-nighters: Studying all night before a big test might seem like a rite of passage for college students, but it's not worthwhile to make a habit. You will improve your performance and academic potential by sleeping through the night.
Balance Work and Rest
If you find yourself nodding off during class or fatigued, work on balancing your life between rest and activity. Consult a counselor if sleep deprivation if becoming a problem or concern for you.