“I’m too busy to sleep.” Isn’t this familiar?
As the semester goes by, you’ll hear more and more of it—and you may even say it too. We’re university students. We know we need to get 8 hours of sleep every night. We know sleep is good for our health.
But we still don’t sleep enough. We have other priorities, like assignments or late night hangouts. Some of us feel some kind of ‘pride’ for sleeping only 4 hours a day, but others have had enough.
Why is it goddamn important to sleep?
Sleep is a very tricky topic, even in the scientific community. But one thing I’ve learnt in my psychology classes is that a good night’s sleep gives you a better performing brain the next day. It improves your memory and concentration.
The benefits of sleep are a no-brainer.
What really matters is to find out what sleep pattern works for you. Frankly, sleep can be quite subjective. There is a real difference between night-owls and morning people. And being a nocturnal owl or an early riser does not make you better or worse.
Besides, some people find it enough to sleep for 6 hours a day, while I can’t sleep for less than 8. Okay, it’s true that this is due to many factors, including genetics (can’t be changed) and the quality of sleep (can be changed).
Anyway, I’ve compiled 7 solutions to how to get enough sleep when you’re a student. All the suggestions below have been tested and approved by me or other students I’ve known. And they’re backed by science!
Bookmark this page for those hectic assignment weeks!
1. Plan ahead.
I know it’s hard. The assignment that’s due in two weeks feels so far away. Oh, but what you don’t know yet is that there is going to be a class test on that same day! Oh, and that other assignment will be delayed to the same day too!
If you are at Monash University, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
So set schedules and follow them. Divide your assignments into chunks of tasks and do one chunk a week/every 3 days.
I like to divide my lab reports into 3 chunks: research, outline and write. And I spread it across 1-2 weeks depending on my overall workload and activities.
That way you can schedule enough time to sleep!
2. Power nap!
Okay, this one requires some practice and a lot of discipline. A power nap lasts between 15-30 minutes and should not exceed that time frame.
Naps are not for everyone. I always fail at it and end up sleeping for an hour. I become really groggy when I wake up from it.
But it works wonders for those who can do it!
3. Drink coffee at the right time.
Many will tell you coffee is bad because it affects your sleep pattern. It won’t let you sleep at night and will leave you exhausted in the morning. It’s true.
But often, the real culprit behind your sleeping problems is the time you drink your coffee.
A cup of coffee a day won’t hurt. But a cup of coffee in the afternoon or late at night will.
Caffeine has a half-life of approximately five to six hours, meaning that it takes this long for its concentration in your bloodstream to reduce by half. So if you have a 10-ounce cup of coffee at 7 a.m. containing approximately 250 milligrams of caffeine, by 1 p.m. your body will still have 125 milligrams of caffeine in circulation.
– Tony Gill, Onnit Academy.
Yep, if you take coffee in the afternoon, the caffeinated effect may last ’til late at night. And the more coffee you drink, the longer it will stay in your system!
You can read more about the effects of caffeine on sleep here.
It’s also important to note that, if you love the taste of coffee in the morning, the ideal time to have your cup of coffee will be at least one hour after you wake up. That way the caffeine will not disrupt the normal ‘waking ritual’ of your body.
4. Have dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t sleep if I have a full stomach, right after dinner. If I lie down, I’ll just end up feeling like my food is moving all over the place. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling.
Same goes for exercise. Try not to workout 2-3 hours before you go to sleep—you won’t be able to. Exercise stimulates your body to release cortisol, a hormone which usually leaves you awake right before an exam!
Speaking of workouts…
I realised that I feel more lively on days that I’ve exercised, as compared to inactive/lazy days. It means that I’ll tend to work more on that day or spend my energy outside.
Then, when night falls, I’ll be ready to go to bed and sleep!
6. Your bed is only for sleeping.
And sex, if you are into that. 😉
In any case, it is not recommended to scroll through your social media, watch your favourite TV show or eat on your bed. That’s because it will be harder for your brain to relate your bed to sleep. Thus, it will be harder for you to fall asleep.
Make sure that, once you lie down on your bed, your body knows it needs to go to sleep.
Eventually, as students, this is not so easy, because most of us live in a room. A room that’s a library, a gym and a bedroom all at once. But that’s why we have study desks and facilities on campus. So go out and study in the library! Or even at a coffee shop 🙂
7. NO all-nighters!
Do you want to know how to get enough sleep? Then, stick to your sleeping schedule. No matter what happens. Try to get some sleep every day. Try your best NOT to pull all-nighters.
Getting enough sleep should be something you aim for at university. Something you can be proud of. Because it’s hard. But not impossible.
How do YOU get enough sleep as a student? Let me know in the comments below!
D. K. Waye.
(Please check your inbox to confirm your subscription, thank you!)