Don't Sacrifice Sleep This Semester!
In addition to eating your fill of home cooked goodies, I hope that you were able to find some time to rest, relax and catch up on much needed sleep this Thanksgiving long weekend.
As the semester ramps up and deadlines approach, I see many students begin to sacrifice sleep. I don't deny that a late night might be necessary from time to time to put the finishing touches on a big project. Consistently short changing yourself on sleep, however, may mean that you have more hours to devote to school work, but you will be less efficient while trying to complete that work.
You should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Adequate sleep can have the following benefits:
- Improved efficiency. Getting a good night sleep and attacking an assignment when well rested will mean that you can think more clearly and will complete the assignment in less time than if you attempted it while tired.
- Improved memory. You need sleep to convert the information you learn all day into memory. Students who arrive at an exam well rested perform better than those who attempt to cram right up until an exam.
- Improved mood and ability to deal with stress.
- Decreased hunger and cravings, making it easier to maintain a weight that is right for your body.
- Increased level of physical activity. It is easier to motivate yourself to be active when you are well rested. This can create a positive cycle, as including physical activity in your day makes it easier to fall asleep at night and can improve the quality of your sleep.
- A stronger immune system, meaning decreased incidence of a cold of flu.
Tips to Getting Proper Sleep
Challenge yourself to make sleep a priority this semester. This often requires us to take a step back and look at our overall routine. Once you fall into a pattern of inadequate sleep it can be very hard to break - you are more likely to rely on sugar and caffeine and you are more likely to fall into the habit of being inactive and cramming last minute. If you feel as if you are stuck in this cycle, try the following:
- Avoid caffeine during the afternoon hours. This can be really challenging for many students, but it is often the first step to breaking the cycle.
- Avoid napping during the day. This is another important step to breaking the cycle. Napping during the day makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night leading to a late bed time and poor quality sleep.
- Take a study break during the day and go for a 10 minute walk. Physical activity does not have to be intense or long in duration. A 10 minute walk is certainly better than nothing.
- Aim to get to bed at a consistent time each night and wake up at a similar time each morning.
- Allow yourself time to unwind before bed - spend 30-60 minutes doing an activity that you enjoy before bed, rather than studying right up until the moment you turn out the lights.
- Visit Learning Services in the Library for tips on time management.