Strategies to minimize harm and maximize self-care.
If you’re hungry, you eat. If you’re thirsty, you drink. If you're tired, you sleep. Between classes, work, and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to push sleep to the back burner.
Without sleep you’ll only be more stressed, less focused, and more prone to sickness.
Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Before you say you don't have time for that, remember that sleep is an extremely important function for, well, everything. Research suggests that students who get at least seven to eight hours of sleep have higher GPAs than those who get six or less. Sleep lets your brain rest and sort through all of the information that bombards you daily. It allows you to rebuild cells, refill energy stores, and retain memory.
How to get a good night's sleep
- Keep yourself on a regular sleeping schedule. Try to get to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day.
- Keep your caffeine, nicotine and alcohol intake in check. Avoid consuming caffeine at least six hours before bed. This includes the tricky sources, like chocolate, tea, or even decaf coffee.
- Avoid raiding your fridge too close to bedtime. Especially with spicy or high-fat, high-protein foods.
- Work out daily, but not at the expense of your sleep. Exercising right before bed may
- Unplug. Put the screens away 1 hour before bedtime.
- Establish a routine before bed that allows you to relax and wind down. Stretching and deep breathing are great segues to the sack — they improves blood flow and promotes relaxation.
- Banish distracting thoughts while trying to fall asleep. If something burdensome is on your mind, try writing it down in a notebook to keep it from nagging you.
- Maintain a comfortable sleeping environment. Preferably dark, quiet, and a good temperature.
- Check out Columbia University's a!Sleep website for sleep resources (e.g., a sleep assessment, sleep diary, and e-cards)
- National Sleep Foundation
- "Who Needs Sleep?" [PDF]
- "Poor Sleep May Lead to Worse Grades for College Students," U.S. News & World Report
- "Wakeup call for college students: New research finds you need to catch more Z's," Science Daily
- "Why Sleep Is Needed to Form Memories," Science Daily