Guide to Sleep for College Students

By Thomas Broderick

Published on July 9, 2021

Guide to Sleep for College Students

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Learners who do not plan for a transition to college may make academic, financial, and personal mistakes. One mistake leading to adverse educational outcomes involves the relationship between sleep and college students. Sleep plays a vital role in academic success and mental balance. Unfortunately, many degree-seekers forgo sleep to complete assignments or socialize with peers.

Although mixing college students and sleep deprivation leads to negative outcomes, degree-seekers can avoid them. Researching sleep, understanding sleep deprivation's negative consequences, and practicing good sleep fundamentals help mitigate those outcomes. These and other strategies promote wellness and academic success. Speak with a college counselor to learn more about recommended sleep for college students.

How Much Sleep is Enough?


The amount of sleep someone needs each night depends on their age. Children and young adults need more sleep than older people. Typical college freshmen should sleep 7-9 hours a night.

Uninterrupted sleep promotes the sleep cycle, during which the brain moves through active and inactive states. Learners' sleep schedules also affect sleep quality. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day promotes better rest.

Signs of adequate sleep include feeling mentally sound upon waking, having energy in the morning, and feeling refreshed. Symptoms of bad sleep include an unfocused train of thought and lethargy. Learners experiencing these or similar feelings should consider whether they receive the recommended sleep for college students.

The following bullet points describe five factors determining sleep quality. Neglecting sleep may affect one or all of these processes.

Benefits of a Proper Nights' Rest


Adequate sleep provides numerous benefits, such as improved grades, better memory, and a stronger immune system. The links below offer more information on how avoiding college and sleep deprivation's effects leads to positive outcomes.

Improved Grades
Scientific studies reveal a strong link between sleep and college students' academic performance. Learners getting enough sleep at reasonable times have the energy needed to perform well on tests and other assignments. Good grades lead to many additional benefits, such as less stress and a better relationship with professors.
Better Memory
College students need a sharp memory to remember information for exams and complete other assignments. Sleeping well each night helps learners increase retention. This process occurs during REM sleep, the part of the sleep cycle that produces dreams. A better memory's other advantages include honed interpersonal communication and socialization skills.
Lower Risk of Obesity
The relationship between college students and sleep deprivation increases chances of weight gain. People who sleep more experience obesity at a lower rate than those with poor sleep. Inadequate sleep creates hormonal imbalance, causing people to feel hunger more often and select higher-calorie food. Maintaining a healthy weight prevents daytime fatigue, a condition affecting academic performance.
Decreased Chances of Getting Sick
Getting enough sleep each night contributes to a strong immune system. Sufficient sleep promotes the body's production of germ-fighting white blood cells and cytokines. The latter reduces inflammation and promotes waking up without aches or pains. These advantages make vaccines, such as annual flu shot, more effective. Long-term benefits include a lower cancer risk in middle age.
Improved Mood
Harvard University's research into sleep and college students demonstrates that adequate sleep leads to better mood. Heightened mood promotes social interactions and a positive outlook on life. Learners practicing good sleep habits but still experiencing a poor mood may suffer from an underlying psychological condition. They should seek help from a college counselor.

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Consequences of Sleep Loss


Sleep deprivation may cause one or more negative outcomes for college students. Symptoms begin with poor mood and may lead to impaired brain development and lack of coordination.

Impaired Brain Development
The human brain does not reach full maturity until age 25. As a result, younger college students risk impaired brain development if they neglect sleep. Preliminary research indicates long-term negative consequences for these individuals. Equating college and sleep deprivation can lead to a higher risk of dementia, sleep apnea, and Alzheimer's.
Poor Coordination
Too little sleep can result in clumsiness and a slower reaction time. The latter affects the ability to drive a car. Alcohol consumption adds to these issues and may result in a crash, even with a legal BAC.
Increased Negative Feelings
Sleeping less than seven hours per night for an extended period leads to stronger negative feelings. Typical symptoms include increased irritability and stress. These emotions create a feedback loop where sleep becomes worse. These negative feelings may lead to insomnia, an anxious disposition, and other psychological problems in later adulthood.

8 Expert Tips to Help You Get Enough Sleep


Learners not getting the recommended sleep for college students should practice the expert tips below. Trying just 1-2 of them may improve sleep considerably.

1. Take Naps

Napping features numerous potential benefits, such as improving learning outcomes, increasing wakefulness, and assisting memory formation. However, some people who nap too long experience difficulty falling asleep at night. A productive nap involves sleeping for less than one hour and doing so before lunch. Other tips include performing relaxation exercises before napping.

2. Avoid Afternoon Coffee

Many college students turn to coffee and other caffeinated beverages to stay awake during the day and complete coursework at night. However, some people who ingest caffeine in the afternoon take longer to fall asleep than their peers. Other negative outcomes may include a higher chance of developing sleep apnea later in life.

3. Shut Off Electronics Before Bed

Many electronic devices such as phones, televisions, and computers emit blue light. Although beneficial for viewing text and images, blue light suppresses melatonin, the tiredness hormone. College students who set aside these devices at least one hour before bed sleep better. They also decrease the chances of developing diabetes, cancer, and other medical conditions.

4. Don't Fall Asleep with the Television On

Many people fall asleep to the television because of the soft light and white noise. Doing so brings many potential drawbacks, such as lower melatonin production and stimuli during REM sleep. People who stop sleeping with the television on report better sleep, weight loss, and an overall improved mood.

5. Set a Regular Bedtime Schedule and Stick to It

All living things follow a circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle regulating sleep. A regular bedtime schedule promotes a stable rhythm. A better rhythm lets people go to sleep faster, sleep more deeply, and wake up refreshed. Other benefits include a more positive mood and a reduced risk for physical and mental disorders.

6. Create Space that Maximizes Sleep

Research into sleep and college students indicates a cluttered, warm room with distractions harms sleep. Degree-seekers living in a distraction-filled dorm room reduce the impact by decluttering and putting away electronics before bed. Other strategies include turning on the fan or air conditioning before going to sleep.

7. Practice Meditation

Meditation helps some people attain the recommended sleep for college students. Degree-seekers unfamiliar with the practice can download an app or consult a meditation website. Meditation's benefits include the ability to reflect on the day and clear the mind. Reducing stress before going to sleep improves overall sleep quality.

8. Consider Sleep Medication or Natural Supplements

Degree-seekers continuing to sleep poorly after trying the previous tips should speak with their physician. Doctors may prescribe sleeping pills in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Over-the-counter supplements with melatonin aid sleep, as well. Although melatonin may improve sleep, people report side effects including nausea, headache, and drowsiness.

How to Balance Sleep and Studying


College students balance sleep and studying by developing and sticking to a daily routine. The following ideas give degree-seekers a starting point to improve their sleep, raise their grades, and avoid long-term health problems.

Create a Study Routine
A study routine eliminates the need to stay up late completing assignments. This practice not only promotes a sleep routine but reduces procrastination and cramming sessions. Over time, a study routine becomes second nature. The habit turns into part of degree-seekers' days and not a burden causing stress and anxiety.
Use Your Calendar
Creating a study routine involves determining the best time of day for coursework. Consult a calendar or create one that includes part-time jobs, classes, and advising meetings. Other responsibilities may make studying at the same time each day challenging. However, scheduling time for studying prevents all-nighters and promotes a healthier sleep schedule.
Don't Overdo It
Students' limits and abilities differ. As a result, creating a balanced schedule involves trial and error. Avoid frustration by starting small, such as scheduling only three study sessions in the first week. Once these sessions become routine, add 1-2 more. This technique should prevent burnout and lead to fewer late nights.
Meet with Your Advisor Regularly
Taking too many courses may negatively affect college students' sleep. Learners in this position should speak with an academic advisor about managing their course load. An advisor may suggest dropping a course, finding tutors, or asking for assignment extensions. Advisors also direct degree-seekers toward mental health resources, if necessary.

Thomas Broderick

Thomas Broderick is a freelance writer and the owner of Broderick Writer LLC. He creates study guides, informational websites, and blog posts for clients in the education field. Thomas is also a published author of over 20 short stories and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

See articles by Thomas

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