What’s the best thing you can do for your health, your studies, and your looks? Researchers pretty much all agree that the key is getting more sleep! But how much is enough when you’re busy with papers and building an awesome social life around campus? These sleep and health experts break down what you need to know about getting the best and optimal amount of sleep each night.
Take the Time
Dr. Neil Kline, D.O, DABSM and Representative for the American Sleep Association states that the best amount of sleep has been studied and proven. “According to the American Sleep Association (ASA) Sleep Statistics, college students need about 8 – 10 hours… [College students] who do not get enough sleep have impaired abilities to function optimally at school. Memory and concentration are negatively affected by Sleep Deprivation.“
Prepare Yourself for a Better Sleep
When sleep expert Terry Cralle, R.N. sent her college son to live on-campus, she sent him armed with the best sleep tools out there: “You can only imagine that I went way out of my way to provide helpful sleep products while he lived in a dormitory and later a fraternity house. Ear plugs, eye shades, mattress topper (and later a new mattress) and a white noise machine were mandatory.”
Avoid the All-Nighter Spiral
You may think that pulling an all-night study and cram session is a must before a big exam, but research has shown the exact opposite. According to Stuart C of Bedtime Bliss, “There have been many studies and experiments which have shown that while we sleep our brains process & consolidate our memories from the day. If you don’t get enough sleep it seems like those memories might not get stored correctly, not to mention that insufficient sleep impairs your cognition, your attention, and your decision-making process.”
Make It a Healthy Priority
The Freshman 15 is a hot topic for most incoming students. But did you know that much of your weight gain, along with other unhealthy habits, begins and ends with how much sleep you get per night? Jyothi Rao, M.D. states, “Sleep regulates our hormones which are associated with hunger and satiety. Not sleeping well can increase our cravings for sugar and make us feel unsatisfied even after a full meal.” She further suggests avoiding eating heavy and refined sugars during afternoon meals, which can make you more tired earlier in the day.
Pillow Talk is Important
Mike Lindell, the founder of MYPILLOW, knows all about the importance of the right pillow. He recommends selecting pillows that are hypo-allergenic filled (“Many college students don’t know that they can attract mild allergies that have gone unnoticed, and can be reacting to what’s in their pillow,” Mike notes) and only sleeping on those that are the right firmness. “If the pillow is too soft,” he explains, “it will not provide the proper support for your neck. If the pillow is too firm, it can lead to stiffness in neck and shoulders.”
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Almost every expert agrees that sleep hygiene is as important as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Make a routine that encourages restful, productive sleep. For one, set up a sleep schedule and stick to it. It may be tough to set that alarm for the same time each and every morning, but you will feel better for it in the long run. In addition, set your timers for a screen-free, low stimuli time each night. Hide your phone or laptop away from you and avoid sleeping with the TV on. Instead, play some soothing, lyric-less music or use a sound machine to drown out the noise from inside and outside your dorm. You can even practice sleep meditations that can help you practice falling asleep faster.
Get Help When Needed
Sleep problems, especially those that keep you up each and every single night, shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you start to see negative effects on your schoolwork or relationships. Jamie Kopf, Berkeley Wellness Senior Editor and Health Expert, encourages, “College students who are struggling with sleep problems should check with their campus health center and find out if this type of counseling is available – especially if sleep problems are ongoing. Sleep drugs can help in a pinch but they’re only for short-term use, and they’re a band-aid solution; they don’t address the underlying problem.”
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