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.

Standing out and finding success

When the economy is in trouble and the job market isn’t brilliant, a standard choice for many is to stay in education (or return to it) and take a higher qualification.

Getting another shiny new piece of paper that sets you above the rest seems like a good idea.

But how distinctive is it really?

photo by Mike Bailey-Gates

photo by Mike Bailey-Gates

BBC’s Director of the North, Peter Salmon, spoke to students at Edge Hill University recently about opportunities and finding success.  He said something that may lead you to question why another qualification isn’t necessarily enough to truly make you stand out:

“You have to be able to develop your own voice and make yourself distinctive and ask yourself how far you’re prepared to go to make it.”

The sentence may appear quite vague and difficult to achieve, but there’s a deeper point here.  Another BBC employee, the head of editorial development, Pete Clifton, said to Salford students:

“When somebody like me looks at job applications, I’ve got to come up with a way of distinguishing between people. One of those ways is if they’ve got a link to what they’ve done. If I can go away and look at it and see it’s good quality then they’re probably going to have a chance.

“This is why you should think about ways in which to showcase what you do.”

What makes you tick? Where have you made a difference? What can you show off right now?

The main point here is that you can start being distinctive right now.  You don’t need to wait for someone to give you a green light and permission to shine. And you don’t always need to rely on another qualification just to look better on paper.

If you want to do more study, great!  If you simply want to use that study as a gateway to distinction, start thinking about the other gateways out there.  There are more than you think.

Qualifications support your quest for future success.  But you are the driver.  How far are you prepared to go to make it?