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Quality sleep may seem like it comes at a premium in college. Some university students struggle to get adequate rest because they stay up late studying or hanging out with friends. Other factors like caffeine and technology can affect how quickly you fall asleep and your sleep quality throughout the night. Follow these five tips for improving the relationship between college students and sleep.
1. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
The most practical way to get adequate sleep is to create a sleep schedule and stick with it every night. Your body has an internal clock and benefits from a consistent weekly routine. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day helps put your body in a rhythm.
Maintaining this sleep routine can be difficult for college students who start and end their days at different times throughout the week. For example, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you have a class starting at 8 a.m., but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, your first class doesn’t begin until 11:30 a.m. In this case, treat every morning and night as if you’re preparing for your 8 a.m. class to make your bedtime routine easier the whole week.
2. Find Ways to Exercise
Exercise can be an excellent way to improve your sleep. Moderate physical activity during the week can improve your sleeping habits by falling asleep quicker and staying asleep. The time of day is up to your preference, but try to exercise at least two or three hours before bedtime. Exercise wakes some students up and energizes them, which can be beneficial before class.
Working out can be challenging during the week because you have to fit in between classes, a job or other activities. There are a few ways you can increase your exercise during the week, including:
- Walk: If you live on or close to campus, try leaving for class earlier and walking.
- Gym class: Some students have free electives in their curriculum. If you have these free classes, consider taking an exercise-based class like tennis or weight training. These courses are often easy to pass so they won’t distract you from your studies.
- Intramural: You don’t have to have pro scouts or a coach watching to play sports on campus. Grab your friends and form an intramural team playing your favorite games. These leagues are often lighthearted and fun to get active outside of class.
3. Eat Well Before Bedtime
Food is excellent because it gives us energy, but you should refrain from eating before bed. Some people can have a midnight snack and go back to sleep. Still, generally, food can impair your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Your body’s insulin resistance increases at night, and eating at this time can lead to unhealthy decisions.
Sometimes, life happens, and it affects your routine. If you need a meal before bed, some of your best options are raw or cooked vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots. Fruit, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt are also excellent options. Protein and nutritious fats promote a better marriage between college students and sleep.
4. Create an Optimal Sleeping Environment
The time you go to sleep is critical, as is the environment in which you go to bed. Some students can fall asleep with their lights and TV on, but others need a dark room with complete silence. Tailor your dorm room or apartment bedroom to your liking with some of these suggestions:
- Blackout curtains: If your bed is next to the window, the sunrise can be a nuisance if it’s not your time to wake up. Regular curtains can block out some light, but blackout curtains can make sure you get the rest you need.
- White noise: If you have trouble sleeping, white noise can help put you to sleep. You could use a fan, air conditioner, dehumidifier, or another device. White noise can mask loud sounds and keep your brain at ease.
- Lower temperature: When the temperatures are cooler, you may fall asleep more easily. At night, your body’s internal temperature drops, so having a cooler room will help that temperature go down and make sleeping easier. Try lowering the thermostat at night and keeping the room dark.
5. Wind Down With a Bedtime Routine
Some nights, you may find yourself studying until the last minute, but on less chaotic evenings, try winding down about an hour before bedtime. You could turn off your electronics and read a book for pleasure. Warm milk or decaf tea can help you feel relaxed during this resting period. Listening to calming music or doing light yoga can help you feel at ease after a long day of classes.
College Students and Sleep: A Work in Progress
Sleep is an essential part of your day as a college student. You need the energy to get through your classes, ace your exams, do your homework, or participate in extracurricular activities. However, more than 70% of college students say they sleep fewer than eight hours per day. Use these five tips to help you fall asleep and stay asleep easier.