Make the most of the sleep you DO get


Should you leave the unexciting parts of being a college freshman, like sleep and study schedules to chance? There are so many activities to try and new people to meet. It could be very exciting, or very overwhelming, depending on who you are. Whether you are going to light the campus up with your presence, or stay in and venture carefully, you will maintain a level of good energy throughout the first year if you take care of them well.

But, realistically, how much sleep do you need to get? That is a question only you can honestly answer. You NEED to think about this because you are the one who is going to class, work, parties, and adjusting to a new living situation. 

Thank you to SUNY Geneseo's Student Health and Counseling Department's Hot Topics! College Students and Sleep . How's Your Sleep  (this is a very valuable resource, and a good example for what to look for at the university or college you are attending). I have paraphrased some of the online document and added things, but here is the link to the original source.)

Think realistically about sleep. Make the most of the sleep that you DO get. 

If you are aware of your choices in these areas you are on your way to making good choices

  1. Modify alcohol consumption.
  2. Decrease smoking.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Take a look at your diet.

Caffeine and sugar are two substances that definitely impact sleep, attention, and energy.  Caffeine is often a necessary evil in a college student's life. Being aware of if and when it interferes with your sleep is the first step to making choices about when to have that cup of joe.

  • Reduce caffeine intake.  In particular, don’t consume caffeine within 4 hours of bedtime--for most people, caffeine contributes to insomnia and disrupts sleep.

Get a small notebook. Every day write the date on the page and write down what you would like to do, This is not a to-do list or an opportunity to judge yourself. Just write down what you want to do. The next day, do it again. At the end of the week read through what you wrote. The next week, do it again.

  • Set realistic daily goals. Setting goals helps to minimize the possibility that you will stay awake thinking about what you have not accomplished that day. Perfectionists and worriers tend to have more trouble sleeping. 

What do you make sure you do at the same time every day (besides sleep?)

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule. Although this can be difficult for college students, as much as possible, it is important to try to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time each day--failing to do so is like putting yourself through jet lag on a regular basis. 

Try this 5 minute guided meditation (in English or Spanish).

  • Practice diaphragmatic (deep) breathing.  When practiced before bed, not only will deep breathing help you to feel more relaxed and to facilitate sleep, but also you are likely to obtain more restful sleep.


What makes it difficult to get enough sleep?

Ok, that was amusing, and probably not your actual situation. But, it is a good jumping off point to think about what keeps you from going to sleep.

At the beginning of this post there is a list of things to be aware of: alcohol use, smoking, caffeine, and exercise.

  • Do you go out on nights you will have to wake up the next day for class?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you drink coffee right before you want to go to sleep?
  • Are you spending ALL of your time in front of a computer?

Enough for this time! Next time, we will look at schedules, and about what you need to do to get to class without stressing.