As the end of August approaches, so does the end of summer. School is back in session here at Illinois State University, and students are preparing for the start of another year in Bloomington-Normal. A key part of that preparation is getting back into a normal sleep routine to make sure that you are not falling asleep in your classes. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re well rested for the workload that comes with the fun and excitement in college.
1. Gradually scale your bedtime back
While you may be tossing and turning the first few nights back at ISU, it’s important to give yourself enough time to get those extra hours of sleep your body needs. If you found yourself going to bed around midnight during the summer, try to get to bed a little earlier each night. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier each night and your body will gradually adjust. Don’t try going to bed at 8 p.m. right away because it takes time to reset your internal clock.
2. Determine how much sleep you need
Some find it easy to run on four to five hours of sleep each day, while others need all the sleep they can get. It is recommended by the National Sleep Foundation that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
3. Avoid caffeine late at night
Caffeine in the morning can do wonders after those nights with little-to-no sleep, but consuming caffeine at night can make it harder to fall asleep and may cause an uneasy and disruptive sleep process. So save that energy drink for another time.
4. Wake up earlier each day
Just like going to bed earlier, it will help to wake up a bit earlier in the morning as well. As tempting as it is to hit the snooze button, avoid doing so, as it will only make the waking up process more difficult.
5. Exercise daily
College students have a lot of energy to burn and working out during the day is a great way to use that energy as it will make it easier to fall asleep at night. Exert your energy early on since it is hard to fall asleep when your body still has tons of energy running through it.
6. Avoid eating late
Eating late causes your body to react in different ways. Your organs have their own internal clocks that respond to food so get most of your calories early in the day and have a light dinner to end your day.
7. Keep naps short
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy a nap every now and then. It’s easy to jump back into bed after those early morning classes, but try to keep those naps to a minimum as your body will perceive that extra time of rest as your main sleep time.
Dr. Jon C. Michel, a pulmonary, critical care and sleep physician at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, works in the sleep center at OSF and he talked about the importance of getting a good night sleep.
“Sleep plays a big part in living a healthy lifestyle and correlates directly with your physical and mental health,” Michel said. “Ongoing sleep deficiency can lead to health problems and may affect how you think, learn and interact with others.”
It won’t be easy the first couple nights back at ISU, but getting a good night’s sleep will be well worth it when you’re buried knee-deep in assignments.