The stereotype for a University student is that they sleep all-day and drink all-night - but this isn't true for everybody. Many students will stay up late procrastinating, doing work or going out, but then have to be up early for lectures. Throw in a part-time job and looming deadlines and it's no wonder they can't fit in the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep that most people need.
<br/>Firstly, it's worth noting that not everybody needs eight hours to sleep, some may need six, some may need far longer to wake up feeling refreshed. But if you find yourself hindered by any of the symptoms mentioned below, it is worth considering some of these tips.
How sleep impacts your...
Sometimes it may feel like you're getting enough sleep, but that is purely because your body has adapted to your average amount. While in reality your lack of sleep affects your memory, concentration and even motivation. It's no wonder those early lectures are a struggle - you have no desire to get up because you're so tired. If you make it to University, you'll still find it hard to concentrate and focus, as sleep deprivation will hinder your cognitive abilities.
Have you ever felt run down and ill after a busy week? It's not surprising because lack of sleep can severely affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to infection. And did you know that sleep deprivation can affect your mental and physical health? In some extreme cases, lack of sleep could lead to illnesses such as headaches, depression and obesity; the stress of these symptoms then act as a catch-22 making you feel even worse.
So how do I change my ways?
Firstly, you need to work out how much sleep your body needs - give yourself a week of trial and error. Once you know your optimum sleep time, give yourself an appropriate bedtime. If you still struggle to fall asleep, use these tips:
- Steer clear of screens 30 minutes before sleep
Watching TV, listening to the radio, playing a game on your phone or using your computer should all be avoided well before you plan to sleep. Still too wired to close your eyes? Read a book or a magazine; the static words will help you to drift off. Failing that, try counting (sheep, friends' names, the amount of doors in your house etc...) or exercise deep and controlled breathing techniques.
- Adjust your surroundings
In this day and age, sleep is far harder to come by due to our obsession with artificial light. Be it your alarm clock, the lit hallway or street lamps outside - all of these do their bit to keep you awake, even with your eyes closed. Try to cover up any light that can infiltrate your sleep, turn off lights or get thicker curtains. Even the colour of your room can affect you, so opt for darker shades that are less likely to reflect light.
- Don't snooze
You may think that setting your alarm slightly earlier and allowing time to snooze and 'wake up slowly' is a good idea - but it isn't. By ending your deep sleep cycle early, then drifting back to sleep until your next alarm, you begin a new sleep pattern leaving you feeling even worse than you did before. Set one alarm for as late as possible - and stick to it.