Better Sleep Month: 9 Sleep Hacks for Students (or Anyone Else with a Crazy Schedule)
A huge part of Better Sleep Month is shedding light on the fact that we just aren’t prioritizing sleep the way that we should be. Recent reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that around 1/3 of American adults aren’t getting enough sleep.
Even worse than that, another study by sleep experts has indicated that more than 60% of college students are skimping on sleep, and putting their health and well-being in jeopardy. Sleep deprivation has been directly linked to some pretty serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
So what can you do to get more sleep and cash in on all of the health benefits that come with it? These 9 sleep hacks are simple and easy to stick to, helping college students (and everyone else that wishes that there were more hours in the day) have sweet dreams and healthier, more productive days for many years to come.
Sleep Hack #1: Skip Your Evening Caffeine Fix
Coffee and energy drinks can be very tempting when you’re on a tight schedule or have a heavy workload to contend with, but did you know that caffeine can stay in your system for up to 14 hours after you drink it?
Stick with water or other caffeine-free beverages after lunch to make sure that you’re not stuck staring at the ceiling instead of actually sleeping once you’ve gone to bed.
Sleep Hack #2: Ditch the All-Nighters
It might be tempting to skip sleep when you have a deadline looming, but going all night without getting any rest can cause impulsive behavior, anxiety, and forgetfulness – even in the short term.
Instead, work on setting yourself a schedule that will allow you to earmark time for all of your projects and activities, as well as getting at least 7 hours of sleep each and every night.
Sleep Hack #3: Don’t Leave Out Your Workout
It can be easy to skip the gym or stay at your desk all day when you have a lot to do and not much time to do it in, but missing out on physical activity can increase the likelihood of insomnia.
Getting out and stretching your limbs with a walk, soccer game, or other form of exercise at least 3 times per week can help you fall asleep (and stay that way), as well as making you feel more energized during your day.
Sleep Hack #4: Set a Sleep Routine
Take things back to basics by giving yourself a bedtime. Choose a time to go to bed every night and stick with it! Your body loves routine, and making sure that you’re getting to sleep around the same time each night will help signal your body when it’s time to hit the hay.
Sleep Hack #5: Don’t Forget to Relax
Just setting aside 10 minutes out of your day to chill out and not be rushing on to the next thing on your to-do list can have some amazing results. Whether you meditate, listen to music, or just “zone out” for a bit, this relaxation time can help reduce stress, which is one of the top culprits of missing out on quality sleep.
Sleep Hack #6: Take a Short Nap
If you hit the after lunch wall of sleepiness, consider taking a “power nap” – just make sure that you keep it short!
Studies have shown that taking a nap of 20-30 minutes right around 3 p.m. can have some significant benefits for your productivity level and your ability to get to sleep at night. Just be sure to avoid going over the 30-minute mark or you could end up feeling groggy, instead of refreshed.
Sleep Hack #7: Make Your Bed a Haven for Sleep
If you avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep, your body will associate being between the sheets with catching some Zs and make it easier to fall asleep.
That means no TV, working, or surfing the Web in bed!
Sleep Hack #8: Keep Things Quiet
For many people, noise can be a huge deterrent of getting to sleep. If you’re living in a dorm with noisy roommates or have to contend with lots of street sounds, think about investing in a pair of quality earplugs.
Popping earplugs in before bed can do wonders for eliminating unwanted noises and lulling you into a peaceful night’s sleep.
Sleep Hack #9: Cut Back on Alcohol
Alcohol may seem like a good way to help you fall asleep, but even just a few drinks can have negative effects on your sleep cycle.
While alcoholic beverages can cause you to fall asleep faster, they also tend to make your body skip right over the critical REM stage of sleep – making you miss out on the part of sleep that helps your body restore and recharge itself.
Following these 9 sleep hacks should help you get the good night’s sleep that you need and deserve. Be sure to check back throughout the rest of Better Sleep Month for more tips and tricks for having restful nights and productive days!