Sleep is a vital part of success in life as well as an educational career. Many students fail to acknowledge or regard this fact when going about their day, and they can feel the consequences. Having a regular sleep schedule and getting enough sleep contributes to improved memory, happier moods, better coordination and higher academic performance. Without consistency in sleep, people tend to be in worse moods, have short tempers, be more susceptible to illnesses and more. If someone is experiencing trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, not being able to get up with an alarm, requires caffeine to stay awake, feels exhausted or takes long naps, they may be experiencing lack of sleep. Luckily, there are many different options to try and get a sleep schedule back on track.
There are a lot of things anyone can do leading up to bedtime to secure a better sleep pattern. A large influence of sleep deprivation is having caffeine in the afternoon. Even if someone does not feel the effects of the caffeine or feels that they will be okay if they don’t have it too late at night, consuming it at any point in the afternoon is detrimental to getting rest. Another contributing factor is an excessive use of electronic devices and looking into blue light. Blue light is what the eyes absorb when looking at electronics, and seeing too much of this before bedtime can affect the body’s circadian rhythm and disturb sleep. Avoiding falling asleep to the TV and using electronics about an hour before bedtime is a great way to steer clear sleep deprivation. Instead, one can read, journal or meditate before bedtime. Having an overly hot or cold room can cause a person to have trouble staying asleep at night. Making sure to cool off a warm room and have adequate heat in the winter time is beneficial to keeping the body comfortable and undisturbed. Decluttering the bedroom is also a small but important step in decreasing stress and distractions.
It may be hard at first to start getting up early, but being awake in the morning increases productivity and sets one up to go to bed at an earlier hour. Staying up late doing homework is less effective than waking up earlier to get it done, so it is good practice to switch the habit of cramming work into late hours. Along with waking up early, it is important to establish a set sleeping schedule that can be maintained throughout most of the week. Going to bed and waking up at the same time, and at more reasonable hours, is best for the body’s rhythm and the brain’s productivity. Napping has both positive and negative effects depending on how people take them. Napping for less than an hour and before midday is the healthiest option, whereas napping for more than an hour and late into the day can decrease one’s ability to sleep and stay asleep.
If these and other methods don’t seem to help, it is not a bad idea to consult a doctor about sleep medication or to try natural supplements. Melatonin is a common and useful natural supplement that helps people sleep well and establish a better sleeping pattern, however it tends to weaken the body’s natural production of melatonin if used too long and comes with some small side effects.
When going through life and pursuing an education, keeping the body healthy is crucial to maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Getting enough sleep and having a set and habitual sleep schedule is one of the most important contributors to being happy and healthy. There are many simple methods to trying to improve one’s sleep, and the best reason to try any of them is that sleep plays into every other aspect of life, so why not make it better?
BIO: Alessandra Gluck is currently a student at the Honors College at Arizona State University. She is double majoring in English Creative Writing and Journalism and Mass Communication. She is also a Member Intern at Grad Guard Insurance Company. Alessandra enjoys writing and plans to pursue this passion throughout graduate school.