According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, up to 60% of all college students are sleep deprived.
You might be thinking, “I’m not sleep deprived; I just don’t get a full seven hours a night. This doesn’t apply to me.”
However, it’s recommended for all adults to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Anyone who wears a tracker while they sleep probably knows that lying in bed from midnight to 7 a.m. doesn’t mean you really got seven hours of sleep. You have to account for how long it takes you to fall asleep and how much time in total you were up in the night. By the end of that calculation, you may find you have only gotten five to six hours of sleep. And, no, a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee does not solve sleep deprivation problems.
What happens when this affects schoolwork? Sleep deprivation can cause lack of alertness, daytime sleepiness, impaired memory, relationship stress and a greater likelihood for car accidents, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, heart failure and strokes. If it becomes long-term, you risk experiencing memory lapses, decreased mental abilities, microsleeps and impaired immune functions.
“Sleep hygiene” refers to good sleeping habits. The following sleeping habits can help improve the length and quality of your sleep, leading to an improved quality of life.
1) Develop a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends and breaks, will program your body to be ready to sleep at the preferred time.
2) Sleep when you’re sleepy. Only try to sleep when you feel tired. This will prevent you from spending too much time awake in bed.
3) Get up and try again. If you haven’t been able to sleep for about 20 minutes after lying down, get up and do something boring until you’re ready to try again. Avoid screens and anything too stimulating.
4) Avoid caffeine and nicotine. It is best to avoid caffeine or nicotine for at least four to six hours before going to bed. These substances act as stimulants and can interfere with your ability to sleep.
5) Avoid alcohol. This is also best to avoid for at least four to six hours before going to bed. Many people believe it helps them sleep, but it will only help you fall asleep; after that, it interrupts the quality of your sleep.
6) Your bed is for sleeping: avoid doing homework, taking breaks or eating in your bed. If you set aside your bed only for sleeping, your brain will associate your bed with sleep, and it will be easier to sleep.
7) No naps. If you can avoid it, try not to take naps during the day to make sure you’re tired when it’s time to actually sleep.
8) Sleep rituals. You can develop your own ritual to do before you go to bed. Some people will stretch, have tea or read. If you make this a habit, your brain will warm up to the idea of sleeping during that period.
9) Baths and showers. Even though baths are proven most beneficial, taking a hot shower can help raise your body temperature, causing you to feel tired. Research shows sleepiness is associated with a drop in body temperature.
10) No clock-watching. Many people who struggle to sleep have a habit of checking the clock many times throughout the night; however, this can wake you up more and tends to reinforce negative thoughts like “I’m never going to get to sleep.”
11) Use a sleep diary. If you’re a person who thinks a lot right before falling asleep, keep a little notebook by your bed to write things down if you need to remember them. Avoid using your phone, as the blue light tends to wake you up more.
12) Exercise. Regular exercise is a great help to get good sleep. Try to avoid strenuous exercise within four hours of bedtime, though.
13) Eat right. A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well. A heavy meal right before bed can also interrupt sleep, so keep that in mind.
14) The right space. Make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable and quiet (as much as possible) for sleep. You can consider an eye mask, earplugs, a fan etc.
15) Keep your daytime routine the same. Even if you sleep poorly, try to keep your daytime routine as close to normal as possible. If you avoid activities because you’re tired, it could reinforce insomnia.
It’s not just sleep schedules that affect our physical and mental health. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Exponent would like to provide some resources to UW-Platteville students, faculty and staff.
UW-Platteville’s main campus University Counseling Services 608-342-1865 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Campus Counseling Services at UW-Platteville Richland 608-387-3762 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk’s counselor 608-355-5272 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
University Dietitian [email protected] or call 608-342-7334
UW-Platteville’s main campus Student Health Services 608.342.1891
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7
Allergy and Infectious Diseases 866-284-4107
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline (Substance Abuse) 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Women’s Health (Information) 800-994-9662
RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474
Deafness and Other Communication Disorders 800-241-1044
The Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386
Also visit your:
Primary care provider Local psychiatric hospital
Local emergency department Local walk-in clinic
Local urgent care center American Psychiatric Association
National Association of Social Workers Veterans Affairs