Do you usually find yourself exhausted, even after waking up from a long night’s sleep? Are you constantly reaching for coffee as a simple fix? Perhaps you have already evaluated your sleeping patterns, but no matter what you do, feeling energized or well-rested seems to just not be in your favor.
As college students, we especially struggle to balance classes amongst school work, extracurriculars, sports, work, and other obligations. However, in this ongoing balancing act, 60% of college students neglect sleep as a factor—meaning that most college students nationwide are sleep deprived, getting, on average, only 6 hours of sleep per night.
Sleep is critical for the mind and body to recover from the stresses of the day and for further bodily development. A lack of sleep has direct correlation with a weaker immune system, causing an increased chance of becoming sick. It also influences the amount of stress one can handle and corresponds to weight gain due to the body requiring more calories to function. Sleep deprivation is like a domino effect. Sometimes it may seem like a good idea to stay up to study for an exam or to catch up with friends, but as a result this creates poor eating habits, high blood pressure, and ironically lead to lower grades rather than higher ones. For more statistics on sleep deprivation check out:
So rather than substituting sleep with a cup of coffee, here are a few tips to not only sleep better, but to also feel good overall:
1. Get moving!
Whether this means going to the gym, going for a stroll outside, or simply doing some jumping jacks at your desk, keep your blood flowing! Sitting for long periods causes our body to feel sluggish—we need to break out of this cycle. Note: Do not exercise prior to three hours before going to bed as for it can affect our natural rhythms according to the National Sleep Foundation.
2. Stay Hydrated!
Dehydration can make our bodies feel tired and lazy, oftentimes resulting in headaches. Water is critical for our bodies to function, so controversial to coffee—which dehydrates our bodies—water not only hydrates us, but it also gives us a boost of energy.
3. Skip the Snooze Button!
Although hitting the “snooze” button may seem like you are getting more sleep time, controversial to belief this actually has negative effects. According to Harvard, people who wake up earlier are more productive and report feeling more energetic than those who do not. Being a morning person is a difficult transition, but with the right motivation your future self will thank you later.
4. Avoid the Drama & Stress
Stress is a negative component to exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Although we do not choose to be stressed, there are many techniques we can do to put our stress at bay. We can also control the people we choose to be around; if those people tend to be toxic, causing more harm than good to our emotional state of being, perhaps it’s time to personally reflect on what is good for us. Check out our other article on stress-relief:
5. Eat Right!
Sure, you have probably heard this many of times, but similar to staying properly hydrated, your body depends on what you put into your body to help fuel itself. Although sugar may seem like a quick “boost-me-up” in the moment, its after effects lead to further exhaustion. That does not mean to cut out “junk foods” entirely, but just be mindful and eat them in proportions. Additionally, avoid foods with high fat, dairy, citrus, sugar, or caffeine prior to bed. Foods to help you sleep includes honey, whole grains, bananas, beans and nuts, eggs, tea (caffeine-free, such as chamomile), and cherry juice.
6. Cut Out Screen Time!
Studies have proven that staring at a screen prior to bed impairs our quality of sleep. Therefore, it is important to avoid doing work on laptops or watching television an hour before sleeping.
7. Make a Routine—And Stick to it!
Although this may be the most difficult, it is also one of the most important. Make a realistic sleep schedule of the same bedtime to fall asleep and to wake up—with a few exceptions only once in a while! Our bodies need to regulate our circadian rhythm. Practice relaxing prior to bed, creating a comfortable sleep environment (solely for sleeping!), and avoid taking naps (especially in the afternoon).
8. And If You Just Can’t Fall Asleep…
Whether your brain is active, or your body just keeps tossing and turning try one of these tips. Put on socks, read a book, turn off your phone, set your thermostat to 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, hide any clocks from view, journal about anything on your mind that is keeping you up, change into (or out of) your comfiest pjs, listen to peaceful classical music or white noise on low volume, focus fully on your breathing, make a cup of chamomile tea, take a warm shower, or take a brief walk or stretch.