Stop hitting the snooze button

Tips for getting the most out of your slumber

The average human will sleep for one third of their lifetime. If you live for 90 years, that’s 30 years asleep.  

Have you ever felt like there’s not enough time in a day for forty winks, or find yourself using the phrase, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” 

In some cases, it would be useful to have developed the ability to skip sleep. Dolphins and whales have been shown to have sleep cycles in one side of their brain at a time, allowing them to continuously swim. 

Unfortunately, we aren’t about to learn how to rest one side of our mind at a time, nor really should we. Sleep has been proven to have many benefits ranging, from increased academic performance to overall better health. 

Sleep in university has been extensively studied, as it seems to be a period in our lives where our sleep habits change. Some factors for this change are quite obvious: ruminating over situations from the day, anxiety, stress and alcohol all contribute to poor sleep. 

Interestingly, studies have shown that most first-year students are in bed before midnight, but upper-year students are awake past then. When it comes to daytime sleepiness, it’s the exact opposite, those same upper-year students are actually less sleepy during the day.

Studies have also shown that those weekend sleep-ins can be very valuable. Students who slept less than seven hours on weekdays but slept longer on weekends performed better than students who slept less than seven hours every day of the week.

So what can help us get restful sleep? 

Phone apps like Sleep As Android, Jawbone Up, Sleep Cycle or Sleepbot can help you trend your bedtime and accurately report your sleep latency — how long you were in bed before falling asleep. 

Prolonged sleep latency can lead to feeling tired during the day and is, quite frankly, a waste of time. You aren’t sleeping and aren’t being productive! 

To decrease your sleep latency, consider making a list of the things you’re ruminating over to get them out of your head. Also, try to take an hour-long break from screens and blue light before bed — for this you can use the Flux app which moderates the brightness of your computer screen. 

Another surprising link to prolonged sleep latency is feeling socially isolated, so connecting with friends or family can actually lead to a more restful night’s sleep. 

University life makes it difficult to maintain sleep hygiene, due to simple challenges, such as multipurpose residence rooms, roommates, and too much homework on your computer. But remember: getting more sleep may be the key to your success, even when you feel like you don’t have time.

If you’re really concerned about your lack of sleep, it might be worthwhile to visit Student Wellness Services, as insomnia can be a symptom of depression and many other medical conditions which your doctor can offer advice on. 

So rest assured that long nights of no sleep don’t have to be a nightly recurrence. When you’re heading to bed, make an investment in your wellbeing that will be productive for the future. 

The National Sleep Foundation Recommends

 

1. Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.

2. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.

3. Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music. Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom.

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