Although it may not seem like it, you are still growing in college. Your body is changing while you’re undergoing new stressors like being away from home, studying more and participating in campus activities. For both your health and your grades, it’s important to create an evening routine and a regular sleep schedule.
Follow a schedule
One of the best ways to insure you get enough quality sleep is to try and maintain the same sleep schedule. If you regularly wake at 8 am for classes on Monday, try to maintain that same waking time throughout the school week. On the weekends, do your best to stick to a similar schedule. If you spend a late night out with friends, do your best to get back on schedule the following day.
Work it out
Establishing an exercise schedule has also been shown to improve sleep. You don’t need to be a die-hard athlete to reap the benefits either. Set aside 30 minutes to an hour most days of the week. You can walk, dance, do yoga or perform a mix of cardio and strength training. It is best to fit in exercise in the morning or afternoon, as evening workouts can actually disrupt sleep.
Make good choices at the table
Deep fried and heavy foods can be more difficult for some people to digest. Focus on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet and avoid having a heavy dinner, as intense digestion can impair your ability to fall asleep. Sip on water throughout the day to remain hydrated.
Don’t be tempted to skip meals. When your schedule fills up, make sure you are still eating balanced meals consistently. Both overeating and undereating can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Let go of the electronics
Some studies indicate that the use of electronics before bed can cause sleep disorders. For this reason, it’s best to turn off all electronics at least one hour before bed. Replace this time with light reading, listening to calming music, enjoying a warm bath or meditating. Avoid loud noise and emotionally stimulating books or music. The idea is to begin to turn your brain off for the evening so it can prepare for sleep.
Create a sleep zone
It’s easy to eat, watch movies and surf the web in bed; but none of these habits will do anything to improve your sleep. Save your favorite activities for other areas of your living space and maintain that your bed is used only for sleep. This is a way of training your brain and body to associate your bed only with sleep.
While it may be tempting to fill up on coffee and other caffeinated beverages to make it through a long day of classes, those same habits are likely creating a vicious cycle of poor sleep followed by tiring days. If you choose to include caffeine in your day, make it first thing in the morning so you’re more alert for classes. You’ll likely find that you have less trouble falling and staying asleep, and that you wake more refreshed.
Don’t let deadlines wear you down and keep you up at night. The second you receive an assignment or notification about an upcoming exam, set time aside during the day or early evening to take care of business. If you give yourself plenty of time to prepare, you will decrease the number of late night study sessions and fall asleep with greater ease knowing that you’ve managed to take care of your work.