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Sleep Habits

Getting enough sleep enhances academic performance, helps reduce stress, and supports good physical and mental health.  Sleep is a memory enhancer—it helps you remember what you just studied.

Most college students need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Studies have shown that college students that get regular sleep have higher GPA’s then those that get less than 6 hours of sleep per night.

Make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity, so put it on your "to-do list" and cross it off every night.  But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done – stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.

To get better sleep, follow these simple yet effective healthy sleep tips:

Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Scientists are now finding that light from electronics has the potential to disrupt sleep, because it sends alerting signals to the brain. Blue light in the 460-nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is given off by electronics like computers and cell phones, has been shown to delay the release of melatonin.  Melatonin release is needed for normal sleep patterns.

Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. Getting up at a consistent time (within 2 hours) is more important than going to bed at the same time.

Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. Doing the same thing every night helps your mind check out earlier in the process, which helps in the transition to sleep.

Exercise daily.                                                                                                                                     

Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light. You can use white noise, a fan, or earplugs if noise is keeping you awake. The ideal room temperature for sleeping is 60-67 degrees. Turn off electronic screens.

Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.

Spend time outdoors every day. The natural light helps your wake-sleep cycle.

Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine. Try not to drink caffeine later in the day as its effects can last four to seven hours in the body.

Reserve your bed for sleep or sex.  Don’t multi-task, email, text, or study in bed.

Don’t spend too much time in bed:  If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, spending too much time trying to fall asleep will only frustrate you. If you have not fallen asleep in 20-30 minutes, get up out of bed and do a calming, relaxing activity like reading a book. Once you feel tired again, try heading back to bed.

Put your phone & clock out of reach, out of sight. Watching the clock will worsen your anxiety about not falling asleep.

Try to calm your mind before bed. If something is on your mind, try writing it down in a notebook to keep it from nagging you. Get your things ready for the next morning, write your prioritized “to-do” list for tomorrow. Journaling, meditation, prayer and/or relaxation exercises may help.

You may also try using the National Sleep Foundation Sleep Diary to track your sleep habits over a one- or two-week period and bring the results to your medical provider or counselor.

Sleep Resources:

National Sleep Foundation

Take this sleep quiz from the University of Michigan to find out what kind of sleeper you are

Poor Sleep May Lead to Worse Grades for College Students

IU Counseling and Psychological Services (812) 855-5711