Exhaustion and lack of sleep is practically a characteristic of college students, no matter your schedule or major.
Due to all the things college students have to juggle on a daily basis, improved sleep is hard to come by. Sometimes it feels like it takes a massive effort to improve the way you sleep, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Making a few tiny, instrumental changes to your sleep routine is all it takes to achieve improved sleep.
So, here are six simple-to-implement tricks that will help you get a better night’s sleep with practically no effort.
1. Stop Using Your Phone Before Bed
Especially for college students who are constantly using their phones, jumping off social media before getting in bed is the biggest and most obvious change to make, but also probably the hardest.
Not using your phone right before hitting the hay is such a crucial change though, as it’s relatively well known that using your phone before bed is detrimental to your sleep. Using your phone (or any other technology) before bed can adversely affect your circadian rhythm because of the bright light it emits that keeps you up longer.
It might be unrealistic for college students to stop using their phones because they use them all day, so don’t quit cold turkey. Slowly wean yourself off using your phone at night; if you have to work, dim your screen or stick to paper notes and studying. There are obviously going to be times you will use your phone before bed, but if you can limit those instances in any way possible, you will see improved sleep, even if it takes a while.
2. Do a Relaxing Task Before Bed
Instead of surfing social media right before bed, try switching your phone out for your favorite go-to relaxing hobby, which could range from reading to writing to even knitting. The purpose of doing this is so you can wind yourself down slowly before bed and you can be relaxed, instead of stressing while doing work.
Doing this could also serve as a potential motivation to get work done faster because you will be doing a task you enjoy.
If you don’t have a particular hobby you’d enjoy doing before bed, you could also try doing something low-key like meditation or yoga. Whether you need an hour before bed or 30 minutes, you should decide beforehand when you want to start whatever task you choose.
No matter how much time you devote to it, doing something you enjoy and that is relatively relaxing is definitely going to help you on your way to improved sleep.
3. Invest in Your Bed
This rule applies even if you live in a dorm, with a bed that you will probably only use for five to six months depending on your semester/quarter length.
No matter where you sleep, it should be super comfortable because as humans, we will spend a third of our lifetimes sleeping. That’s a pretty long time sleeping, especially if your bed isn’t all that comfortable. That’s why investing in your bed is so important, because why waste time being uncomfortable when you don’t have to be?
Investing in your bed can look like a lot of different things depending on the bed you have. First of all, make sure you have a good mattress. Mattresses can be expensive so you should only be buying one every 8 – 10 years; you can also consider buying a Temper-Pedic-type mattress top if you can’t replace your mattress.
You should also just splurge on some great sheets, including blankets and/or a comforter. Don’t feel guilty for buying bed stuff because you deserve to be comfortable when you sleep, especially since it will take up a third of your life.
4. Create a Sleep Routine
Creating an effective sleep regimen can also be hard to implement because college students have such varied schedules every day. Depending on your classes and work, you might get home at different times and have varying responsibilities day to day.
Creating a sleep routine doesn’t require you to have the same schedule every single day, as that’s a bit unrealistic for a college student. But if you try, even by doing just the bare minimum, you’re well on your way to having a better sleep schedule.
Your first step in implementing first and most important thing you need to do is figure out when you’re going to go to sleep and wake up every day. If that time differs from day to day depending on your schedule that’s perfectly fine, but once you decide on times, you need to attempt to adhere to the times you’ve established. You don’t have to be perfectly punctual, but don’t miss your designated time by more than an hour.
Lastly, you can’t be constantly hitting the snooze button in the morning. It’s extremely hard, especially if you have to wake up early, but try to only let your alarm go off once. It will take some time, but improved sleep will be on its way if you adhere to somewhat of a sleep schedule.
5. Regulate Napping
It’s common sense that the more you nap during the day, the less tired you’ll be when you’re supposed to be sleeping. While naps can be super refreshing, take care to curb your napping habits if you are constantly spending your days sleeping. While it may feel like your sleep is improving because you are taking naps all the time, nodding off constantly is probably a detriment to your sleep cycle.
While you don’t have to nix napping entirely, try to limit yourself to one nap a day, maybe right after your classes but before you go to work or do any homework; in addition, you should also limit how long you nap. It doesn’t do you any good if you go from three 30-minute naps to one two-hour nap, even though it may feel like it does. Try to keep any napping under an hour; any longer and you drift into deeper sleep that will be harder to shake when it’s time to get up.
6. Don’t Drink Caffeine Too Late
To achieve improved sleep, you absolutely don’t need to cut caffeine, by any means; drinking coffee, energy drinks, tea or whatever else to stay awake during the day is perfectly fine. No one should expect themselves to completely cut out caffeine unless that’s a personal goal or New Year’s resolution. You just need to be aware of how long you drink caffeinated beverages throughout the day.
Starting your day with one or a couple of caffeinated drinks is understandable, but it should be curbed by the late afternoon or a time you set for yourself.
It’s no secret that caffeine helps you stay awake, if you continue to drink it until the late afternoon or early evening, you’ve ensured that going to sleep at a somewhat reasonable time will be harder.
Choose a time where you don’t allow yourself to drink caffeinated drinks after that time passes in order to get better sleep that night, which may be hard depending on your dependence on caffeinated beverages, but with time and a little patience, will most certainly lead to improved sleep.