University of Florida | GatorWell Health Promotion Services - Health Topic

Sleep


Being well rested is a critical component of wellness and contributes to academic success! Lack of sleep affects your health, your mood, and your grades. Review the information below to learn how to improve your sleep habits.

Want more A's? Get more ZZZ's!

Sleep is a critical component of wellness and contributes to academic success! Lack of sleep affects your health, mood, and your ability to perform at your maximum potential in the classroom. Review the information below to learn more on the importance of sleep and how to improve your habits.

Sleep does so much for our overall well-being and health, but it is typically the first thing we reduce when our schedules get busy. Obtaining enough sleep is essential for being your best physically, emotionally, academically and socially. Sleep makes you feel refreshed and less easily frustrated. Quality sleep contributes to academic success by helping you stay more alert in class, promoting memory consolidation of what you study, and affects processing speed so you can learn faster. Additionally, it improves your energy so that you can stay well and feel your best. 

According to a recent health survey of UF students, nearly 1 out of 4 felt tired, worn-out or sleepy 6 or 7 days a week and 1 out of 10 had an extremely hard time falling asleep 5 or more days per week.

Ideally, we need 7-10 hours of sleep each night to perform at our optimal levels. Trying to maintain a regular sleep routine is one of the key tips. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body's "internal clock" to expect sleep at a certain time night after night.

Test your knowledge with an interactive Sleep Quiz!

Sleep FAQs

What if I like to stay up late on the weekend?

  • Although the best thing you can do is keep a consistent sleep schedule every day of the week, there are other things you can do. First, try taking classes that start later in the day. This can help make a later sleep/wake cycle on the weekends less of a drastic change from your normal schedule. Next, pick Friday to be your late night out. This will give you more time to resume your sleep schedule for Monday. Finally, get outside and exercise Monday morning before class. Sunshine and exercise can reset your biological sleep clock.

What should I do if I wake up and can’t fall back asleep?

  • If you can’t fall back asleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until you feel sleepy again. Staying in bed longer than 15 minutes can cause you to stress about going to sleep, turning your bed into a source of anxiety and making it even harder to relax and fall asleep.

What should I do if my roommate or building is too noisy?

  • Soft earplugs are an inexpensive way to block out excess noise from your sleep environment (pick some up for FREE at GatorWell anytime we are open!). If you are concerned that earplugs may prevent you from hearing your alarm clock, you can use ‘white noise’ such as a fan or phone app to block the noise as well. You can also buy sleep masks ( pick some up for FREE at GatorWell anytime we are open!) to cover your eyes if the lighting in your room is too bright for you to sleep comfortably.

What if I think too much and can’t fall asleep?

  • One thing you can do to help get things off your mind is keep paper or a journal next to your bed, but make sure you get out of bed when writing. Writing out all the things you are thinking about may help get them off your mind so it can relax and you can sleep.

Do TV or video games impact sleep?

  • Yes! Watching exciting TV shows or playing video games before bed can make you more alert and less likely to sleep.

What should I do if I have trouble falling asleep?Here are some tips to help you fall asleep:

  • Start relaxing an hour before bedtime.
  • Do NOT go to bed until you are tired.
  • Don’t take naps. If you must take a nap, limit it to less than one hour, and take it early in the afternoon.
  • Go to bed and wake up within the same hour each day.
  • Eating a light carbohydrate snack with milk before bedtime may help you sleep.
  • Stop drinking beverages with caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime.
  • Don’t drink alcohol within 2 hours of bedtime.
  • Exercise on a regular basis, but not within 2 hours of bedtime.
  • Take a walk outside in the morning to help you wake up.

Sleep Myths

If I can’t sleep, I’ll just go to the doctor and take sleep medicine.

  • Nope! Study after study has shown that changing sleep habits is more effective at improving sleep than taking sleeping pills. Also, once you start taking pills, it is hard to sleep without them, and there can be serious side effects.

I can stay up all night and do fine on a test the next day.

  • Not true! It is a proven FACT that people who sleep do MUCH better on tests than those who stay up all night cramming, even though the people who stay up all night THINK they do better.

If I stay up all night, I can just sleep later the next day to make up for it.

  • Wrong! You CANNOT make up for lost sleep. Sleeping in just throws off your sleep schedule even more and makes it harder to get to sleep at a normal time the next night.

It doesn’t matter what time of day I sleep, as long as I get 8 hours of sleep.

  • Not true! Changing your sleep schedule is as bad as not getting enough sleep. It’s just as important to sleep at the same time every night as it is to sleep for a full eight hours.

If I can’t stick to my normal sleep schedule, I can just take naps the next day.

  • Wrong! Taking a nap can prevent you from feeling sleepy at bedtime and cause sleep problems to continue. If you must take a nap, take it early in the afternoon and limit it to one hour or less.

If I have trouble sleeping, I should stay in bed longer and try to ‘force’ myself to sleep.

  • No! This will just make you frustrated and turn your bed into a source of stress and anxiety, making it even harder to fall asleep.

Sleeping in the Swamp: A Sleep Improvement Program

Many UF students report that it is challenging to get enough sleep, and less than half of students report feeling rested four or more days a week. That is where "Sleeping in the Swamp" can help. This proven sleep improvement program was developed for and tested with UF students. Tips you will learn in this video include:

  • Create a positive sleep environment equipped with comfortable pillows and free of tempting technology.
  • Use your bed only for sex and sleep.
  • Lie down to sleep, but only when sleepy. If you are unable to fall asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed or in the middle of the night, get out of bed and do something non-sleep related that is relaxing, and return to bed only after you feel sleepy.
  • Nap early and keep them under 1 hour. Longer naps can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.

8 out of 10 UF students would recommend this program to a friend who was having difficulty sleeping!

How to Get Started

If you would like help getting started with any of these strategies, you can make a Wellness Coaching appointment today!

Controlling Your Sleep Environment

  • Do not use your bed or bedroom for any activity other than sleep or sex.
  • Establish a set of regular pre-sleep routines that get you ready for bed. Each night do the same routine in the same order.
  • Lie down to sleep, but only when sleepy. If you are unable to fall asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed or in the middle of the night, get out of bed and do something non-sleep related but that is relaxing, and return to bed only after you feel sleepy. 

Campus Resources

Wellness Coaching for Academic Success: GatorWell's free wellness coaching program helps UF students create individualized sleep improvement plans. 

Online Resources and Interactive Tools:

Get Enough Sleep: Basic information on ways you can take action to get better sleep from healthfinder.gov.
Sleep Health: Learn more about simple ways to feel better and start improving your sleep, created by National Sleep Foundation.
National Sleep Foundation: Fact sheets on a variety of sleep topics, sleep diaries, and sleep research.
Healthy Sleep Habits: Tips from the Sleep Education from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to improve sleeping habits.
Sleep and Memory: This webpage by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School provides information about the connection between sleep and your ability to learn.
Think Fast! Test Your Reaction Time: This interactive tool by Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School allows you test how alert you are by completing a 5-minute reaction time challenge.
Track Your Sleep: Use this sleep diary to help you track the quality and quantity of your sleep. 

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