Sleeping is a luxury for college students. When you’re busy all day and then up all night being busy with more things, sleeping becomes the least important thing to do with your time. Sleeping for less than 8 hours is like a badge of honor that you can brag about the next day, and sleeping for longer than that must mean you’re lazy or sick or on something. College students need more time to sleep than we give ourselves. Check out how much shut eye you should be getting here from the Sleep Foundation.
“Sleep is for the weak” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” are things I’ve whispered to myself as I sit hunched over a laptop in some forgotten corner of a study lounge, typing with one hand and clutching a cup of tea in the other. Even when I don’t have anything to do at night, I find myself staying up at least two hours later than necessary. I’ll lay down in bed at a reasonable time, and then it’s 2:00am and I’m still rewatching “Parks and Recreation”, forcing myself to keep my eyes open until I actually fall asleep and wake up abruptly to Leslie Knope being excited about waffles.
Part of this problem is my terrible sleep schedule from the summer carrying over to the start of the school year, and the other part is my addiction to always be doing “something”. I spend so much time looking at screens sometimes that I get a headache, but it just feels too weird not not be entertained or busy.
Here are some suggestions I have for getting more than three hours of sleep (because you really should):
Journal- Something most people have trouble keeping up with. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on the day and focus on yourself. When I’m running short on time or just don’t feel like writing a ton, I make bullet points of whatever comes to mind when I think about my day. Sometimes if you’re stressing about something or regretting an awkward situation, writing it down gets it off your chest. If your thoughts are keeping you up all night, turning it into something more productive, like a journal entry or even a sketch, can help!
Be active (during the daytime)- Do something that involves moving; take a walk before bed, stretch, do some yoga, run a 5K, whatever suits you. Fresh air can help clear your mind and burn off some extra energy so you can get to sleep faster.
Download f.lux- I discovered this at the end of my summer and I’m so glad I did. It’s a program that adjusts the brightness of your computer screen to mimic the light you’re in. During the day your computer is at the usual brightness, but based on your timezone, which you program into it, f.lux automatically adjusts the lighting of your screen to be easier on the eyes. Without such a bright screen at night, I don’t spend as long watching it before falling asleep. It also helps me be more aware of what time it is- when the screen gets slightly darker, that’s my cue that it’s getting late, (so no more realizing at 11pm that I’ve been on Tumblr for six hours). It’s really easy to use, because you don’t have to do anything, and it has an option to turn off the screen dimming (temporarily) if you need to do something color-sensitive. Check out the f.lux website (where you can download it for free) here.
Anticipate the next day- I get worried about how I’m going to fit everything into the next day and catch myself staying up late to try to mentally plan everything. To fix this, I make sure to “map out” my day on my whiteboard before I get ready to sleep. It’s a chance to review what I need to get done and check for any events I may have the next day. Write a list of what you need to do and give everything a time that you’ll do it within your schedule and really try hard to stick to it. Seeing that I can write a rough draft, go to two meetings and all my classes, and see Allison for dinner, on paper helps me stress less about being busy.
Try not to work in your bed- This is something I feel like I was told a lot growing up, but at college it becomes very difficult when your bed is the main spot you have to work in. Associating your bed with being awake takes its toll on your sleep schedule.
These are just some things I’ve been doing lately that have been working for me, so they might work for you too! There are a lot of reasons people have trouble sleeping at night. For me it’s just general stress, but for others it can be something more serious. If you find yourself extremely anxious and little tricks like yoga and writing out your schedule aren’t helping, reach out to someone for more support- you can check out more resources here!
Busy people like Leslie Knope are admirable, but it’s also important to “treat yo’ self” to sleep!
Note: Image is not ours- it was found here.