The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for optimal function and performance. However, most college students average about six hours of sleep per night. Sleep allows the brain and body the opportunity to rest and recover because it is working through the necessary processes to function properly. These processes include removal of waste products, decreasing blood pressure and repairing tissue. Adequate sleep improves concentration levels, productivity, performance and immune function. Creating healthy bedtime routines can greatly improve college students’ quality and quantity of sleep.
Most college students neglect the appropriate amount of sleep to complete school work, write papers or study for exams. If repeated over consecutive nights, this neglect can lead to sleep deprivation. Health problems, such as increased blood sugar levels, mental and physical fatigue, depression and metabolic disorders can be caused by sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep also leads to compromised performance and productivity in the classroom, at work and during exercise due to lower energy and concentration levels.
Due to academic demands and busy schedules, college students find it difficult to acquire restful sleep. Establishing a bedtime routine is pivotal to improving the quality and quantity of sleep. Here are some suggestions for creating a healthy bedtime routine:
Complete assignments throughout the day to avoid late night cramming.
Go to bed at the same time every night.
Limit caffeine intake and avoid a heavy meal several hours before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases the body’s energy level. Consuming a large amount of food before bed can slow digestion and increase digestive problems leading to interrupted sleep.
Limit or avoid screen time (TV, computer, phone, tablet) an hour before bed. This will aid in the production of melatonin, which helps regulate sleep.
Take a hot shower or bath to help the body relax before bedtime.
Read a book (not an ebook) or journal.
Perform gentle stretches, meditate or enjoy absolute silence to promote sleepiness.
Prioritizing sleep is important for the brain and body to function properly. Energy levels, reflexes, immune function, productivity, concentration and muscle and tissue repair are negatively affected when the body does not get adequate sleep. Creating a healthy bedtime routine can prevent sleep deprivation. Implementing habits such as limiting caffeine and screen time before bed, taking a hot shower, performing gentle stretches and meditating can significantly improve the quality and quantity of sleep.