I have another helper to host Teach Me Tuesday! I am still getting into the groove of school and living at my new apartment in a new city!
I will have updates on life soon, but for now, enjoy these helpful tips about sleep. Something we all could use a little more of!
"There's a time and a place for everything, and it's called college."
- The Chef
When most people think of college, healthy sleep probably isn't high on their list of associations. Instead, a lot of people seem to associate college with extremes: extreme studying, extreme socializing and extreme drinking. That combination doesn't sound like it leaves much space (or respect!) for healthy sleep habits.
However, one of the things I like most about Amanda's blogging is how she puts an emphasis on achieving balance in your life. I think you can apply this approach to college life just as much as any other life stage. How to do it is obviously a huge topic and one that Amanda and others are doing their best to cover elsewhere on this site, but I'd like to chip in my two cents in the area that interests me most: sleep.
So, once you've finished getting organized with these college essentials that were covered previously by a friend of Amanda's, have a go at getting your college sleep habits in order with a few of the following tips and 'hacks'.
The importance of having a bedtime routine and sleep's importance to our physical and spiritual health have already been well-covered, so I'm going to try and add something a little different here!
1. Always get up at the same timeOK folks, the biggest sleep tip ever is coming up, so listen carefully! Probably more than anything else you can do to improve your sleep health, whether at college or elsewhere, getting up at the same time each day is the easiest way to get better sleep.
Photo by William Ross
To avoid this, use a daily alarm and just stick to it. Seriously, even if you don't need to get up or you were out late the night before, just get up at the usual time anyway. This makes it much easier for your body to keep track of your sleep schedule. (Note from Amanda: This is something I'm currently working on!)
2. Sleep debt is a bit of a mythRecently I've noticed that the idea of "sleep debt" is becoming increasingly popular in the media and general knowledge. The idea is that your sleep is like a bank account, and if you don't put enough balance in you get into debt. So if you miss sleep you need to 'pay it back' later.
It's an attractive idea because it's simple and makes it seem like you can miss sleep and easily re-arrange your sleep schedule without any consequences. However, there isn't actually a lot of good research to back the idea up. There are actually some studies that suggest that sleep debt isn't an accurate idea at all (e.g. this one).
So, rather than trying to 'catch up' when you next get the chance to sleep for longer, it's better to try and keep consistent sleep habits that are good in general.
3. Alcohol is not good for sleep, despite how it feelsMost people at college drink alcohol, and like the rest of the population, most people drink too much. You're probably already aware that alcohol really doesn't do any good to your body, so I won't lecture you about it here. I'll just say one thing, though, which is that alcohol really destroys the quality of your sleep.
Photo by Stephen Witherden
4. The sleep deprivation testWant to know if you're not getting enough sleep? This is actually quite a tricky question to answer, and even the scientific community hasn't settled on a conclusive answer for it. Also remember that an individual's sleep needs vary from day to day and across a lifetime.
So how can you figure out if you should be getting more sleep? Well, there is actually a simple, rule-of-thumb test for sleep deprivation. All you do is go into a dark, fairly warm room and sit in a comfortable chair. If it's not time to fall asleep but you find yourself nodding off, it probably means you're not getting enough sleep. If you were, you would stay awake in that situation.
5. Use caffeine wisely (if at all)Caffeine is an essential part of most people's college survival strategy, so it's unlikely you'll be able to drop it completely (and it's not necessarily unhealthy anyway). But if you do have caffeine, use it wisely. The first rule is: don't drink coffee in the evening. Even if you can fall asleep after coffee, your sleep quality is reduced.
Photo by Doug
Be warned though - caffeine is actually quite a powerful drug, more so than most people realize. I would always advise you to use it in moderation, at college or elsewhere, and I'm sure Amanda would agree! (Yes she would!)
Charlie Swiers is so fascinated by sleep that he researches and writes about it on a daily basis, mostly at his own site Sleepmo, where he covers everything from the health benefits of sleep to dispelling myths like sleep debt.
If you have any more college sleep tips, please share them in the comments below! Questions are of course welcome as well - I'll be sticking around to answer them where I can.