Getting enough sleep in college is probably the hardest thing any of us have ever done. That calculus final? Not as hard as getting more than a 4 hour catnap at night. Talking to the cute boy from writing class? Nothing compared to getting your work done in time to go to bed before 2 a.m. And then, of course, you have class the next morning at 8:30. Without our proverbial 8 hours though, we’re only harming ourselves. Sleep is crucial to self-care, and getting your full night’s worth is even better than an anti-stress face mask.
Keith Cushner, General Manager of tuck.com, gave us some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep:
1. You really do have to get your 8 hours. (And that’s just the minimum.)
We’ve all done those mental calculations before bed, factoring in how much time we’ll have before our alarm goes off, then just figured we can take a nap to make up the extra hours we spent watching just “one more” episode. But according to Cushner, “catch-up sleep” or the sleep we try to make up for with an afternoon nap, isn’t scientifically sound. “Napping is great, but it can’t make up for sleep… a nap can’t really negate the negative effects of not getting enough sleep,” Keith says.
2. Lay off the blue light.
Do your best to shut off your electronics 30 minutes to an hour before you get into bed. The blue light from our phones and other electronics tricks our brains into thinking it is daylight, throwing off our sleep cycles, and making it harder to get to sleep at a decent time. Cushner advises that if the temptation is too great, try putting your phone on Do Not Disturb, or keeping it in another room.
3. Get your workout out of the way.
Getting up in the morning to work out isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you work out at night though, be sure to finish at least three hours before you go to bed to give your body a chance to cool down.
4. Don’t party before you crash.
Substances like nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before bed can affect the way that your brain registers the REM phase of sleep, which causes issues like insomnia and daytime fatigue. This is the hardest thing on the list to put into practice in college, but try to finish taking these substances at least 3 hours before bed.
5. Use your bed for what it’s for.
Training your brain to associate your bed with sleeping is beneficial to a good night’s sleep. If you use your bed to study, your brain might start to stress about assignments, which can keep you up at night. If you only use your bed for what it’s for, like sleep and sex, you’ll be able to have a stress-free environment to sleep in.
6. Study in advance.
All night cramming sessions are bad for your health, and they might not even help you pass your exams. The night before a test should be spent eating a good meal, some light studying and a solid night of sleep. Besides, even the experts agree that if you need the 10 hours before a test to cram, you might have some other problems.
7. Stop hitting snooze.
The vicious cycle of waking up to your alarm and then going back to sleep for another 10 minutes is not a good way to start your morning. “[It] disrupts your normal sleep cycles, which can actually make you groggier when you finally do get up,” Keith advises.
Sleep is important to a bunch of other things we don’t even consider, too. Getting your full 8 hours helps with memory retention (crucial to those early morning exams), longevity (not getting enough sleep takes actual time off your life), your immune system, and much more. Sleep aids your mental health, helping your mind process stress and anxiety from the day. You’re even 50% less likely to follow through on goals like your New Year’s Resolution if you’re not sleeping enough.
Luckily, there is a place to take all of our sleep questions. Tuck.com is an organization created with the intention of becoming the #1 online destination for all things sleep. They have answers to the questions we’ve all had about catching our z’s as well as recommendations for products that can advance your sleeping skills.