Pillowtalk: The college life and sleep deprivation

"Tonight, go talk to your pillow and be best friends with it."

Typical college students nowadays suffer from many unhealthy habits including sleep deprivation. With all of our classes, extracurriculars and social pressures, we pack our schedule so much that we often forget about an important aspect of our daily health: Sleep. As college students, it has become very apparent that the possibility of getting 8 hours of sleep is nothing more than a myth. But good news: Not every person needs 8 hours of sleep to function properly. We need sleep for muscle repair, memory consolidation and the release of hormones regulating growth and appetite, though the time length of all these processes differs from person to person. If we don’t get as much sleep as our individual body requires, then we wake up less prepared to concentrate, make decisions and engage fully in school and social activities.

Considering this, studying how many hours of sleep your individual body needs is investing in your well-being and increasing your academic potential.

Invest in your academic future by practicing regular sleeping schedules. As hard as this is, try to wake up and sleep approximately at the same time every day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, having an irregular sleep schedule is like being on jet lag. Sleep is regulated by circadian rhythms, which is a neurotransmitter regulator that accounts for how many hours of sleep your body gets on average. When your body needs sleep nourishment, circadian rhythms are responsible for making you feel sleepy.

TIP: Set a regular wake-up time and vary your sleep-in times and assess how much energy you had during your day. The best sleep is when you go to bed at the first sign of sleepiness and wake up without an alarm.

Further, when you keep pushing the “alarm time” beyond its set limit, your body is prone to more fatigue and henceforth little-to-no retention of information. Getting sleep might mean that you don’t need to study so much and pull all-nighters because you have a solid understanding of the lecture material.

Below are some tips for how to adjust your sleeping schedule to achieve more in your schoolwork and beyond:

  1. Set a cut-off limit. It is in your favor to set a bedtime like midnight and a constant wake-up time to avoid the jet lag effect. You will wake up more energized and your body will adapt to the amount of sleep that you get daily.
  2. If you exercise, try to do so during the day. Exercise needs cool-down time and doing it close to your bedtime could lead to irregular sleep patterns.  
  3. Don’t eat for at least 4 hours before your bedtime. The digestive system works best when you are awake. Also, it will prevent you from sleeping until it is done with the beginning processes. Having a half-empty stomach lets you sleep deeper faster.
  4. Infuse vitamins into your diet. Research shows that vitamin B complex includes enzymes that help you sleep better with less symptoms of insomnia. High-protein foods like turkey and peanuts have high contents of vitamin B for sleep.
  5. Practice deep sleeping techniques. Research shows that three sets of diaphragmatic breathing will put you to sleep faster and will adjust your oxygen level intake to your brain while sleeping. That’s why it is healthy to sleep on your back to get the maximum amount of oxygen needed for repair.

As a successful Highlander, invest in yourself and your sleep. Tonight, go talk to your pillow and be best friends with it. It will help you achieve more with less stress, less fatigue, less studying and more much-needed sleep.

For more information and resources about preventing insomnia and sleep disorders or for one-on-one sleep advice, please visit The Well in COSTO Hall or the Counseling Center near parking lot 15.

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