College students tend to have poor sleep habits. According to US National Library of Medicine, 50% of students say they experience daytime sleepiness and 70% do not get enough sleep. A few adjustments can help these statistics change for some individuals.
Creating a space that is separate from the bed can help people fall asleep faster, explained Matthew Whoolery, a psychology professor. People shouldn’t eat or study in the same place they sleep. This can be more difficult for people sharing a room or apartment, but it is always possible.
Whoolery emphasized that if a student studies in bed, their brain will think it is time to sleep. Alternatively, if a student is trying to go to sleep but they usually study in bed, their brain will think it is time to be awake.
Having a routine is an important step that can result in a significant difference to people getting better sleep, and in turn how they feel throughout the day, according to Sleep Education.
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day is a consistent recommendation among many professionals. This includes weekends, vacations and any other special circumstances.
Arianna Hastings, a BYU-I alumna who graduated with a degree in public health, said she never had a hard time with sleep when she was a student. It is hard for her to know if her sleep pattern changed much after graduating because she had a baby shortly after.
“I just sleep when I can at this point, and I don’t do anything special,” Hastings said. “The only thing I do consistently is brush and floss my teeth.”
Sleep Education explains that people can avoid the afternoon groggy feeling by simply keeping to a sleep schedule, which will eliminate the need for a quick caffeine run to get them through their last-minute assignments or to help them stay alert for a date.
“We have a lot of things we use to manipulate sleep,” Whoolery said. “Sleeping pills and caffeine are great examples. You’ve got people drinking energy drinks and then they are like, ‘I have trouble sleeping,‘ but somehow they don’t connect those two together.”
Caffeine blocks sleep-inducing chemicals and increases adrenaline production; it also takes up to 6 hours for half of the caffeine to leave someone’s system, according to Sleep Foundation.
“It is clear that sleep plays a vital role in the consolidation of memory and experience,” said Jon Skalski, a psychology professor. “The hippocampus is essentially downloading information in ways that are key for long-term retention. Trying to learn new information without adequate sleep is like juggling with one hand.”
The hippocampus is the part of the brain that helps to form new memories; it also plays a part in learning and emotions. While someone is sleeping, their brain is forming memories from the things that happened during the day. Without enough sleep, memories and new information won’t be able to be locked away for future reference, according to WebMD.
Sleep is an important part of everyone’s life. Each person will spend about 26 years of their life asleep, according to Dreams. By adopting some of these suggestions into their routine, students could see a positive change in their sleep patterns.