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The Importance of Getting Sleep in College

Posted: 09/13/2012 7:06 pm

Adequate sleep is one of the most important things for good health. Sleep allows the brain to rest and recharge itself, so that the mind is alert and ready for the next day's activities. Lack of sleep can cause mood swings and zoning out.

Sleep plays an important role in tissue repair, immune function, and growth, which are key to the keeping your body free of illness and injury. Young adults require something like 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night, but it's not surprising that a poll found that only 15 percent of college students get even that much sleep.

You know how it is -- homework, social life, looking at stuff on the Internet. If you have to be at school early in the morning, given that it takes an hour to get ready and get there you'd have to go to bed at around 10 p.m. every night to just get eight hours of sleep, which is too early when you're trying to catch up on personal time. Many students attempt to get by with just six hours of sleep, thinking that they can just catch up on lost sleep over the weekend. Unfortunately, this idea of catching up does more harm than good, because it upsets the body's biological clock and the quality of your sleep. This irregular sleeping style can even lead to other sleep problems diagnosable by medical coding such as insomnia, snoring and even narcolepsy.

Besides that, adequate sleep can help combat depression, eating disorders and substance abuse, and the like by enabling college kids to cope better with their emotions. You'll also look and feel better too, and not get in as much trouble for nodding off in class.

So clearly getting more sleep more regularly is important, but how do we manage that? One of the first steps you can take to getting better sleep is by managing your time better.

All-nighters spent writing that term paper that's due tomorrow are no good. Try to space out work, chores and stuff over several days. Make a daily to-do list and use it to identify what is most important, and figure out how much time will be spent doing those things. If you don't procrastinate, this will actually free up a lot of leisure time, as well as time to sleep.

If you're finding it difficult to go to sleep though even when you get the chance, there are some tricks you can pull on your mind and body to make it sleep when you want it to. One of these is making sure you keep your bedroom just for sleeping, and do anything else in some other place in the house. See if you can't get your parents to let you take over a spare room for homework and hanging out, or maybe a corner of the garage or something. This way, you'll get yourself into a habit of recognizing that it's bedtime when you're in the bedroom.

To that end, keeping the lights down low and not watching TV, playing video games, or looking at anything with a screen for around an hour before bed will also help, because it turns out the light they produce makes your body want to stay awake. If you still want to chat or Facebook or something late at night though, a program called Flux will set your screen to dim appropriately after sundown, which will help avoid this lighting problem. Conversely, it'll be easier to wake up if you turn on a bright light, so don't keep the lights off in the morning when you're first getting out of bed.

Other things you can do are avoiding stimulants like coffee or energy drinks in the evenings, taking short naps, getting regular exercise, and making sure you go to bed around the same time every night.

You can also set up a pre-sleep ritual, which will also start tricking your brain into thinking it's bedtime.

Getting the sleep you need is important for being happy, doing well in school and having the energy to deal with anything else that comes your way, so don't write it off as lame.

 

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