Sleep is consistently something that students struggle with. According to the Spring 2022 NCHA-III survey, 22.5% of UF students reported that sleep difficulties impacted their academic performance within the last 12 months.
But having good sleep habits is something that can impact your daily life and academic success positively! Sleeps helps you stay alert in class, promotes memory consolidation of what you’re learning, affects processing speed, judgement and decision making. In addition, it improves your energy, boosts your mood, and immune health so that you can stay well and feel your best.
Daytime Matters: Plan ahead for sleep
Did you know that what you do during the day can impact your sleep at night? Time management during the day helps you stick to a consistent sleep schedule. When you don’t stick to your plan (or maybe haven’t made one yet), those extra hours you were awake during take away from the time you would normally sleep. There are also sleep promoting behaviors that you can plan throughout the day.
- Skip naps or limit them to 30 minutes in the early afternoon.
- Avoid caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, etc.) 6 hours before bedtime.
- Begin a consistent exercise program but avoid exercising within two hours of bedtime.
- Avoid drinking alcohol within 2 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid eating large meals before bed. Try a light snack with milk.
- Avoid using tobacco 2 – 3 hours before going to bed.
In the Morning:
- Expose yourself to sunlight or other bright lights in the morning.
- Take a walk-in natural light in the morning or open blinds to let in morning sunshine.
Relax Before Bed: Set a pre-sleep routine
Start relaxing 30-60 minutes before bed, creating a routine that you can use consistently to help your body know when it is time for bed.
Making this routine a habit each night will signal to your body that it is time for rest. During this time is also important to stop activities that may keep you up such as blue lights from electronics and stimulating activities (watching tv, video games, or checking email).
This also allows you to relax, destress and release tension from the day before bed.
Some relaxing strategies to try:
- Gentle stretching
- Avoid blue lights/electronics
- Reading a real book
- Personal care routine
- Deep breathing/ mindfulness activity
- Light stretching/ yoga
- Warm shower
- Listening to a podcast
- Dimming lights
- Creating a plan for the next day
- Essential oils
- Calming music/ sounds
Consistency is Key: Maintain a sleep schedule
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is just as important as getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Create an attainable sleep schedule where you wake and go to sleep within the same hour each day. This allows your body to operate on a consistent rhythm. Sticking to your sleep schedule during the weekend too is important to feeling well rested during week days. You cannot “catch up” on sleep you’ve missed.
Research shows that students who sleep do MUCH better on tests than those who stay up all night cramming, even though the students who stay up all night THINK they do better. Some sleep is always better than no sleep at all!