How to Get More Sleep in College

By: Hannah Hall 

sleepdeprived catThe myth seems to be true, college students never sleep. I don’t drink caffeine, so why can’t I, along with many other students, sleep? The Journal of Adolescent Health has done studies on the sleeping patterns of college students. They state that caffeine and changing sleep schedules, although an apparent factor, are not significant predictors of sleep quality. So what’s the problem?

As I sit here at four in the morning I know my anxiety is keeping me awake. Roxanne Prichard, a psychology professor at the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of St.Thomas, reports her findings from the Journal of Adolescent Health saying that “feeling stressed provided the largest explanatory power” for poor sleep quality.spongebob awake

I decided to probe around my college campus to find others with the same problem, and ask them why they couldn’t sleep.

  • John Matthew Perry, a Freshman Biology Major states that he actually has a problem “falling asleep too easily” but often finds himself pulling all nighters because of the “stress of school” and the amounts of work he has.studying asleep
  • Megan Ibarra, a freshman at APU says she has stress related sleeping problems comments on her current sleeping schedule.  Megan states that it became “harder for [her] to fall asleep” because of the “energy drinks [she needed] to consume in order to get work done.” Having a 5 am shift at her on campus job, she tries to go to bed “around 11 pm” but even then, she reports, if it isn’t the homework its her anxious racing mind that “keeps [her] up until 2 am.”snoopy sleep
  • Daniel Madrid, a Junior Spanish major at Azusa Pacific University commented on his levels of anxiety in college. He stated that his anxiety “Started in high school but got much worse when [he] entered college,” claiming “anxiety affects [his sleep]” as well as his personal choices.

So, how do we solve this?

lying awake

  • Prichard states that she challenged her students, and herself to turn off their phones before they went to bed and have noticed a difference in their sleep schedules.
  • Megan Ibarra states that “an episode of One Tree Hill or reading a book” helps her fall asleep quickly. Lisa Ricard, a sophomore at APU, says that although she has suffered from symptoms of insomnia since childhood, big worries about “fall housing” and other school stresses keep her anxiety levels high, affecting her sleep. She says that in order to fall asleep she “started taking an herbal supplement… that really helps [her] sleep.”
  • The National Sleep Foundation suggests that those who have trouble sleeping should stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time… yup, even on the weekends. They also state that resetting your body’s response to daylight and darkness, also called your circadian rhythm, can help re-accustom your body to a healthy sleep cycle. This can be done by avoiding bright lights such as cell phones, lamps, and computers before bed, and exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning.

cat nap

So get out in the morning, even just a walk to your 7 a.m. class. Make it a priority to go to sleep at a decent hour. Yes, at night.  “Sleep is an indicator of overall health” states Prichard. So prioritize, sometimes work can be done later. That’s not procrastination; that’s self-care.

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2 thoughts on “How to Get More Sleep in College

  1. Sleep is SO important, and I’ve made it a priority. College will NOT stop me from getting at least 6, but I always shoot for 9, hours a night.

  2. My biggest problem with sleeping is that I work 4 part time jobs in order to afford rent, which in a college town like mine is insanely high. I get off work 4 nights a week at 11:30. After biking home my adrenaline is pumping and it is at least 12:30 before I’m cooled down enough to lay down. Then I start thinking about all of the things I need to do, forgot to do, or about how early I need to be up.
    Anxiety is definitely a factor, and so is diet I feel. I cannot afford to eat as healthily as I’d like. I try to stay away from Ramen, Pizza, and Fried foods, but even then I eat a lot of pasta and burritos. Lot of empty carbs and way too much sodium. I don’t drink enough water, and I don’t get enough exercise. All of these combined with minimal sleep and stress, and you have me: a mess. I’ve gained fat, lost muscle mass, lost general energy, my overall mood has drastically declined, and my overall health is deteriorating rapidly. “Go to bed at a decent hour” is a poor answer to the question posed.

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