Being a full-time student is time consuming. You spend most of your daylight hours in class and most of your evening hours studying. Add in an internship or a part-time job and you may find yourself thinking of sleep as a thing of the past. You certainly are not alone in feeling this way. Numerous studies suggest that college students experience the highest level of sleep deprivation of any demographic of people. Far from being just annoyance, sleep deprivation has serious consequences, from impaired performance at school to serious health problems. Although you can’t change how busy you are and how much time you have to sleep, there are things you can do to make your sleep more productive.
- Watch Your Caffeine Intake: As students, coffee and energy drinks are far from beverages of choice; for many they are a necessity. Most students consume at least two cups of coffee a day, with some even drinking upwards of three pots. While caffeine isn’t all that great for you, it can be beneficial if used at the correct times. A cup of coffee in the morning gets most of us going. It is a problem, however, if you consume caffeine too close to when you go to bed. Even though many people don’t have a problem falling asleep after a cup of coffee, the sleep you experience while caffeine is in your system tends to be interrupted and restless. Basically, the rule of thumb is this: try to stop drinking coffee two to three hours before you go to bed. Your sleep will be much more restful.
- Take Power Naps: A power nap is a nap of between 15 and 30 minutes usually taken in the middle of the day. Studies suggest that power naps allow your body to rest enough to feel rejuvenated and energized for the remainder of the day. Be sure to stick to the time limit, though, as sleeping longer can have the opposite effect of making you groggy for the remainder of the day.
- Keep a Consistent Schedule: Granted, not many students have the luxury of doing the same things at the same time every day, but try to go to bed and wake up around the same times, even on days when you don’t have much to do. This conditions your body and makes it sleep better when you rest than if you binge sleep (sleep 14 hours one day out of seven).
- Get Plenty of Exercise: This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym every day. Rather, try to make sure you get about ten to fifteen minutes of brisk walking in at some point during the day. For most students this isn’t a problem, as they must commute between classes. Regular exercise will help ready your body for productive sleep.
You don’t have to live with the bad effects of sleep deprivation if you pay attention to your body. Don’t let exhaustion hinder your academic career! Following the above tips should help you feel more rested, even on limited time.