How well do you sleep on an average week? If you aren’t sure, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you ever fall asleep in class or at your computer?
- Do you watch the clock as you struggle to fall asleep?
- Do you routinely procrastinate and then pull all-nighters to meet your deadlines?
Sleep is an important part of a healthy self-care routine which also includes nutritious food, exercise, and mindfulness. Research shows that all-nighters and skipping sleep can impact your academic performance. Consistently getting an optimum amount of sleep is a way that you can do your best academically. Not only can getting enough sleep help you learn a new skill, stay on task or be productive, it may also be a critical factor in your health, weight, and energy level. Although individual needs may vary, adults typically need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
Test your sleep health knowledge with these true or false questions:
- Dozing off while attending a lecture is most likely an indication that the professor was rather boring or that you should try another major.
False: The likelihood that you will doze off while attending a lecture, watching television or a movie, while reading or driving in a car is a very good indication of whether you are getting enough good quality sleep.
- For good sleep health it is okay to party on the weekends until the early morning hours as long as you go to bed at a regular hour during the week.
False: Going to bed at the same (or similar) time and waking up at the same time every day, 7 days a week, may be the most important tip of all for consistently healthy sleep. The body craves consistency when it comes to sleep.
- Drowsy driving is similar to driving while under an intoxicating influence.
True: Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk. It is estimated that there are as many as 1,500 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.
- Sleep is not that important to overall health. Healthy young adults can usually get by on just a few hours.
False: Sleep is vital to our health and well-being, and is just as important as diet and exercise. Not only does getting enough sleep help you learn a new skill, stay on task or be productive, it may also be a critical factor in your health, weight, and energy level. Although individual needs may vary, adults typically need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
- Snoring can be embarrassing and is often something that we joke about but it is not really an important aspect of sleep health.
False: Snoring, especially loud snoring accompanied by waking up out of breath can be a sign of obstructed breathing during sleep and may be a symptom of Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep disorder. If you have been told that you snore loudly, report this to your physician.
- In today’s connected world, it is important to be available all the time online.
False: Sleep health is important to academic and personal success and social well-being as well. Turn off all electronic devices or put on silent before bedtime. Treat your bed as a precious space for rest, relaxation and sleep.
Here are some tips on how to get more sleep in your life:
- Carefully examine your sleep environment – Keep your room cool, quiet, and dark. When possible, eliminate distractions such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or a TV or computer in the bedroom. Put your phone on silent or leave it outside your bedroom.
- Don’t watch the clock – If you are unable to fall asleep in bed, get up and do something relaxing such as reading a book or listening to soft music, and return to bed only when sleepy. Resist the urge to turn on a screen. Remind yourself that you have been able to get through the day in the past, even when you have not had a good sleep.
- Limit your caffeine intake – Especially prior to bedtime. Caffeine can be found in coffee, sodas, energy drinks, and chocolate. Try to limit your consumption to one or two servings a day.
- Try a light snack before bed – A bowl of whole grain cereal with milk or a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter are good examples.
- Avoid napping – Napping works for some people but often makes getting to sleep at night more difficult. If you are going to take a nap, be consistent about the time of day and the amount of nap sleep (no more than 20 – 30 minutes).
- Make a pre-bedtime routine – During the last half-hour before bed disconnect and do something that relaxes you or helps you feel prepared for the next day. Make this quiet time where you don’t listen to any news or view any social media. Try leisure reading, tidying up your room, taking a warm bath, or packing your bag for the next day.
- Worrying thoughts can disrupt sleep – Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed so you can record any worries and put them out of your mind until the morning. Or schedule yourself worry time earlier in the day to help prioritize your thoughts.
For more information about sleep health and how it can impact your academic and personal life, view our Sleeping Well Seminar online.