Why Sleep?

Sleep affects numerous aspects of your life on a daily basis and has a large impact on your overall quality of life. There is no doubt about it, when you sleep better, you feel better.

How much?

There is no ‘magic number’ for the amount of sleep we should be getting. Sleep needs vary from person to person and changes across the lifespan. College students generally need between 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

To find out much sleep you personally need,
ask yourself the following questions:How much sleep do you need to feel happy, healthy, and productive?
Do you rely on caffeine to get you through the day?
Do you feel sleepy when sitting in class or driving?

Signs of Healthy Sleep

 If these descriptions fit you, you are probably getting adequate sleep--keep it up!

  • You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes after lying down
  • You consistently sleep 7-9 hours every 24 hours
  • You don’t lie awake for long periods of time when you’d like to be sleeping
  • You feel refreshed when you wake up.
  • You feel alert and productive during the waking hours.

Sleep Tips

  • Make sleep a priority – remember how alert and energized you feel after a good night’s sleep and how that will affect everything you have planned for the next day.
  • Establish a routine – Stick to the same bedtime and wake up times (even on the weekends) to help regulate your body’s clock.
  • Wind Down – Allow your body to shift to sleep mode by relaxing away from bright light and technology for an hour before bed. Try reading or listening to calming music.
  • Dim Screens – The light from phones or laptops can make it hard for some people to sleep. If you must use technology before bed, consider downloading an app like Twilight, which adapts your device’s screen to reflect the time of day.
  • Make your room sleep friendly – For optimal sleep, your room should be cool (between 60-67 degrees), dark, and quiet. Black out curtains and sleep masks can help darken a room and if you need help drowning out noise, try earplugs or a white noise machine.

Napping

A short 20-30 minute nap may help to improve alertness, improve performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. But remember, you can have too much of a good thing. Naps longer than 30 minutes are more likely to leave you feeling groggy or disoriented.  To achieve your optimal nap, make sure that you find a safe, quiet, and comfortable place to lie down. Set an alarm, darken the room, and use a light blanket. Calm your body and mind by breathing slowly and deeply. Naps may not be for everyone. If you have trouble falling asleep at night eliminating naps may help.

Sleep Diary

Check out the National Sleep Foundation’s sleep diary to help you track habits that may be helping or hurting your sleep.

Sleep Disorders

We don’t always get the best sleep. When abnormal sleep patterns begin negatively affecting physical, mental, and emotional functioning they are called sleep disorders.

Below are a few examples of sleep disorders:

  • Insomnia – Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders.  People who struggle with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and often experience low energy, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating as a result.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome – Restless Leg Syndrome affects the quality of sleep and is characterized by the urge to move legs while at rest, or a ‘crawling’ sensation up the legs.
  • Sleep Apnea - Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that results in breathing being briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep.
  • Narcolepsy – People with narcolepsy sleep a normal amount but can’t control the timing of sleep. They experience daytime sleep attacks and insomnia.  

If you believe you may have a sleep disorder, contact Student Health Services to learn how to cope.

Resources

References