What You Need to Know About Sleep

Feb 28, 2013 No Comments by

With spring, things like getting organized, planning for midterms and mapping out study times generally occurs. What about sleep?

According to Stanford University, ‘the average sleep requirement for college students is well over eight hours’ and this statistic poses a question. Just how much sleep are you getting as a college student? Is it enough? If not, what can you do to fit in some more shut-eye?

Here are 5 things you need to know so you can bolster your sleepy time . . . .

Alcohol. If you are of legal age and like to throw back a few beers while watching Bama slaughter the Fighting Irish, then you should know that the alcohol can affect the quality of your sleep. While you might fall asleep more quickly, alcohol affects your brain waves and sleeping patterns so you may feel groggier in the morning instead of revived. While a cup of caffeine free tea might not go well with Buffalo wings as you sit down to watch Detroit take on St. Louis in the NHL season opener, it is something to consider.

Academic performance. If you are one of the many college students who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night (especially during finals week), you could be shortchanging your brain. Bryce Mander from UC Berkley led a sleep study and the findings suggest that, if you don’t get enough sleep, you are not spending as much time in spindle-rich sleep that occurs during the latter part of the night. Fewer spindles generally equate to less learning. Make sure your bed is for sleeping–don’t work in your bed, study for your nursing exam in bed or watch Big Bang Theory in bed.

Sleeping too much. You may know what this feels like. Even after your morning cup of coffee you just can’t shake the grogginess and you go through the day feeling tired. Unless you are sick, under a lot stress or recovering from some other life event, the majority of people need about 8 hours (give or take an hour). If you are consistently sleeping more than 9 hours a night, there could be a physical cause such as anemia or an emotional one like depression. In any case, talk to your doctor if you find yourself needing much more than 9 hours. In order to remain consistent with regards to sleep, set your alarm the night before whether you think you will need it or not. This way, you can drift off to sleep at night aware that even if you are tempted to oversleep, you will not be able to.

Napping. A short nap less than an hour can give your brain a boost. Napping longer than that amount of time or napping late in the day can impact your nighttime sleep. Mid-day naps are ideal even if they are only 20 minutes or so. Even if you do not live in Spain, you can take a little siesta like some Spaniards do—especially if you are going to be working late or have an evening study session for your upcoming history exam with friends.

Electronics. In today’s digital age, it is easy to get caught up spending hours working online into the wee hours for your online advertising degree or texting friends on your smart phone. The light emitted from the screens (compared to the morning sun) along with the interaction can make it hard to fall asleep. Turn off your tech devices a few hours before bedtime if you want to stand the best chance for optimal sleep and to minimize stress. 

The more knowledge you have regarding your sleep, the better off you will be to create healthier sleeping patterns and give your brain a boost. While it may be a challenge to do so in college, if you can incorporate at least 3 out of the 5 tips to start with, you should be on your way to getting a better night’s rest. There is no better time than a New Year and a new semester to usher in the right amount of sleep.

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