Sleeping through University?

Are you always tired? Me too. Ironically, I am writing this article after going to sleep at 1am, having a (much-needed) tea whilst trawling through piles of secondary reading – which I still don’t really understand. So really, who am I to guide you on  good sleeping habits? I’m certainly no expert however I’d like to offer some useful advice to those of you who need it. 

Just to scare you, I am going to kick off this article with some statistics: the recommended sleep for young adults (18-25 years) is 7-9 hours per night (National Sleep Foundation, 2015). On average, are you getting this every night?

The struggle with a student’s lifestyle is the constant battle between sleep and socialising, especially after a night out at Crisis. To make matters even worse is the torturous 9am lecture the next day; going and falling asleep mid-way through or going but sleeping through the rest of the day. I’m not sure which is less productive, especially when coursework and exams are looming. If you feel like you are failing the 7-9 hour sleep mark, do not take this as a personal failure because technological advances of the 21st century have changed our lifestyle choices. 

The current work-life blend constantly demands more work being done at home (especially as a student preparing for lectures and seminars): in your living room, on the kitchen table or from your bed – and this therefore psychologically transforms the once relaxing environment into one associated with work. This is especially the case if you (like me) habitually read books in bed because it is so warm and cosy and inviting with fluffy throws and colour-themed pillows rather than a dusty desk and broken chair. Your brain will therefore still be actively engaged in that work when you prepare for bedtime, further reducing your ability to ‘switch off’ and sleep.

It is worth mentioning the effect that a lack of sleep will have on you. According to the NHS, a night of disrupted sleep can make you feel tired and irritable the next day, and this will have a knock-on effect on your ability to focus and study. After several nights of this, the effects become worse, for example mood-swings and a tendency to fall asleep in the day.

But now enough of the scary stuff… here are a few tips on how to get a better night’s sleep:

  1. Attempt to go to bed at a regular time each night– although establishing this time might seem impossible at first (after arranging nights out, catching up with the girls and watching Bake Off), try to adopt a ‘rough’ routine that works for you, and this will eventually help your internal body clock stabilise so you feel sleepy at the same time each day.
  2. Relaxation before bed – read a book, turn off your phone/ electrical devices, take a warm shower (warm rather than hot, shower rather than a bath – watch those bills!), exercise, overcome late-night stress with meditation, or deep-breathing exercises.  
  3. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks before bed – they will keep you up. Perhaps replace coffee or tea with a mug of warm milk? (And yes, I am aware that I am turning into your grandma!).
  4. Learn to say ‘No’ to a night out – although it is fun, are five nights out a week necessary? Think of your health… and your bed.
  5. Limit the naps – or extra sleeps – when your ‘half an hour nap’ turns into a 4-hour mid-afternoon sleep, does this make you sleep later in the night?
  6. Binge-watching Netflix in the early hours of the morning – can it wait until another time? You will feel better for it the next day.

I am going to practise what I preach, and see how getting a better night’s sleep affects my university life. Go on, why not give it a try too? 

 

Edited by Tia Ralhan