As university students, getting a goodnight’s sleep is often an after-thought, especially with so many other priorities on our plates. With schoolwork, relationships and social media all vying for our time, we can feel stretched thin. Why is sleep even necessary when nature has provided us with gifts like coffee? Why would I sleep for an extra hour when I could study for an extra hour? Allow me to elaborate on how getting a goodnight’s rest can save you a trip to your local coffee shop in the morning and give you more concentration during a study session.
Firstly, why is sleep even necessary? Well sleep plays an integral role in our overall mental and physical health. While you are sleeping, your brain, is getting ready for the next day. Sleeping plays an integral role in our learning and problem-solving skills. Sleeping also allows us to pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. Some studies have shown that a lack of sleep can actually be linked to depression, and risky behaviour. From a physical perspective, sleeping allows our bodies to heal. Think of sleep like charging your phone overnight, it needs that time to recuperate and recharge to be ready for use tomorrow. Sleep helps to keep your hormones in check, specifically the ones involved in regulating our motivations, like hunger. Additionally, sleep is very important for our immune system which helps to fight off infections and other pathogens. So, sleep is necessary to keep us going each and every day.
So we’ve established why sleep is necessary, but how much sleep should you be getting?
It is advised that young adults (18 and up) get approximately 7-8 hours of sleep per night .
Additionally, it is extra important to sleep when your body feels sleepy. It should also be noted that a loss of sleep, sleep debt, can accumulate over time. For example, if you lose an hour of sleep everyday for a week, your sleep debt will be 7 hours. While this isn’t a huge issue in the short run, in the long run it could lead to some health issues. This can be circumvented by establishing a sleep schedule.
Here are a few tips to get help you catch some z’s.
The first step is to be consistent, so pick a bedtime, and wake-up time, and stick to it.
Gradual Changes Instead of Drastic Ones
Secondly, try to make gradual changes. For example, if you are aiming to go to bed by 9:30pm, and you usually go to bed around 11pm, try going to bed at 10:30pm first and gradually inch closer to your goal.
Try to avoid using technology before bed, as the blue light can interfere with our ability to fall asleep.
Prioritize Your Time
A good way to get more sleep is to prioritize your time and say no to things that you don’t want to do. Try blocking off time for yourself to allow you to have a better night’s sleep.
Skip the Snooze
Lastly, try to avoid hitting the snooze button. As tempting as it may be to get those extra few minutes of sleep, our body gets the highest quality of sleep before we hit the snooze. Try giving these tips a try to help you get your ideal night of sleep.
Lastly, here are some extra tips to help you get a goodnight’s sleep. If you are a tea drinker, try consuming chamomile tea or warm milk to lull you into a peaceful slumber. As an added bonus chamomile tea doesn’t contain any caffeine. Caffeine should be avoided before bed as it is a stimulant and interferes with sleep inducing chemicals in our brain. In order to avoid these effects, try not to consume coffee 6 hours before bed. Doing some moderate exercise at least two hours before bed can help you sleep better at night. Researchers are not entirely sure why this helps, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. As an added bonus exercise releases endorphins and also keeps you healthy. Lastly, relaxing and clearing your mind before bed can help you achieve a better night sleep. This can include, listening to music, taking a hot bath, meditating, and deep breathing.
To conclude, getting a goodnight’s sleep is essential to a normal functioning human body. So many aspects of our lives can benefit from a restful night. Our grades, our interactions with others, our diet, and even our wallet is we are able to avoid coffee! Give these tips a try to see if you are able to achieve a for restful sleep. If you would like more information on how to manage stress, the SCC is having a workshop, check that out here.