Sleeping on a Busy Student Lifestyle

Returning, once more, to sleep. This might seem familiar to you:

“A lot of their tips for a better night’s sleep probably sound fairly obvious; keep to a regular schedule, take time to relax before going to sleep, avoid food and caffeine after a certain time of day. How easily these things can be slotted into an average student’s timetable is another question.” [Cherwell]

This has long been a fascination of mine. How do you balance a busy schedule with late nights and different hours, with a quality sleep each night? For so many students, sensible advice on sleep doesn’t help because you’re too busy doing less sensible stuff.

That’s not to say you aren’t able to act sensibly, but how many of you will stick to the same bedtime every single day of the year? I certainly don’t.

The BBC reports on a study at Boston College, which found high levels of sleep deprivation in school students. I wouldn’t be surprised if lack of sleep continues on at university too. And beyond!

(photo by BrittneyBush)

Sleep doesn’t have to be a nightmare (photo by BrittneyBush)

How do you keep up the lifestyle you want and get a better dose of sleep? Try these five things:

  1. Give it your best shot – When you know you’re tired and should be in bed, make a move toward getting the zeds. The number of times I hear stuff like, “I’m so tired, but I need to stay a bit longer” and “I’ve got important work in the morning, but I can’t miss this” is amazing. Nobody wants to miss out, but how often is it worth it in the long run? Make a choice and pay the price based on what you choose. Don’t try to fit everything in.
  2. Focus on the worst habit – All that advice may be hard to swallow, but just think how much you could benefit from tackling just one major sleep issue. Christie Mims says, “make one change that will make you feel better and will have a positive impact on your day”. If, for example, you go heavy on the energy drinks at the end of a night out, find a way to lay off them. That one sacrifice may be enough to improve your sleep in a big way.
  3. Deal with the easiest issues – Instead of dealing with the worst habit straight away, try the other way around. Get the small stuff out of the way. Anything that makes for a quick win can still help the cause for better sleep. Take baby steps and you may find that it only takes a few before you’ve improved your circumstances a lot.
  4. Be brutal when it counts – Perfect sleep over the whole year may seem to much to ask. Instead, try for a few better nights when you’ve got essays to write and exams to revise for. Check in advance when the big study events are scheduled and commit to hardcore sleep tactics during that time. No question.
    You may be tempted to stay out late, but don’t. You’d love that last pint, but don’t. You’d rather stay up late to get more revision done, but don’t. Remind yourself that this isn’t going to last forever and that you have good reason for what you’re doing.
  5. Listen to your body – Rather than get more hours of sleep, change the quality of the hours you’re already getting.

How do you bridge the gap between student life and awesome sleep? Let us know in the comments.

2 comments

  1. I wish, for their own sake, that more of my students would realise the importance of a sensible sleep pattern. I went from being an average student to do doing rather well indeed, and one of the most important underlying factors that brought this change around was a more organised daily routine.

    I’d go to bed at 22.30, sleep by 23.00 (normally after an episode of Family Guy on BBC3), wake up by 07.00, and start working by 08.00. How late I’d work would naturally vary depending on how many deadlines I had and how far away they were.. But thanks to this, I’d often finish long before things were due – whereas a good chunk of my fellow undergrads would be working through the night, right up until the essay was due. Guess who got the better mark? Yeah. Not surprising.

    I’m now a graduate teaching assistant, or tutor, and have noticed that this pattern is widely true. I know roughly which students keep a sensible schedule and which don’t, and it’s reflected in their grades.

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