Managing your time, developing effective study habits, and dealing with stress are all important to your overall academic success; however, in order to carry out these success techniques, you need sleep.
Getting enough sleep is vital to your success as a college student. Proper sleep hygiene (the habits and practices for good sleep) can help you to be a more effective student. It can help you to study more effectively, earn better grades, and maintain your physical health and wellbeing. Students who get less sleep than their bodies need typically earn lower grades than students who get a sufficient amount of sleep (Cuseo, Fecas, & Thompson, 2007). Not getting enough sleep is similar to overdrawing one’s bank account. Overdrawing your body’s energy supply will result in poor health, changed moods, and lower performance. Conversely, developing a consistent sleep routine will help to improve both your physical and mental health.
There are many factors that go into good sleep hygiene (Gilbert & Weaver, 2010). Generally, we require 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Keeping a regular sleep pattern by going to bed and waking up around the same time every day maintains the health of your body and mind (Pauk, 1984). Staying up late, or all night for a cram session, may cause health issues and can produce unnecessary stress on the brain. Your brain is incredible, but it relies on sleep to move information from short-term to long-term memory. Without adequate sleep, all the information you spend time studying will not be adequately imprinted into your memory for recall.
When considering your own sleep hygiene, remember that sleep location matters. If you nap or daydream a lot while sitting at a desk studying, your body might start thinking of the desk as a location for sleep, which will make it harder to stay alert and pay attention to your studies (Pauk, 1984). Studying in bed before going to sleep is not a good practice for the same reason. For the best sleep, you'll want to separate your study space from your sleep space.
When there’s a gap between classes or studying, many students enjoy taking naps. Researchers say that a 10 to 20-minute power nap can help students rejuvenate before getting back to work, whereas an hour nap helps with cognitive memory processing, positively impacting your learning (Mednick, Nakayama, & Stickgold, 2003). If time permits, a 90-minute nap involves a full cycle of sleep and can aid in creativity as well as emotional and procedural memory, both of which could be beneficial for your class projects or papers (Mednick, Nakayama, & Stickgold, 2003). By taking naps and developing healthy sleep patterns, you can maintain better health and give your brain the rest it needs to process and function.
Knowing you need to get a good amount of sleep (and make it good sleep, too), is a lot easier sometimes than actually being able to do so, though. You've got a lot going on as a student, and your life isn't only your coursework; you could be juggling employment, community engagement, childcare, elder-care, illness, travel, and several or all of these things (and more) at once.
To help with the sleep process, take a look at the following tips and see which sounds like a good fit for you and your life. If you're not already using a regular bedtime and wake-up time, see if you can try it. If you find yourself winding down at the end of the day through the use of your screen, consider an alternative (a bath, a warm cup of decaf tea, a book made of paper, etc.).
Hungry for more suggestions? Check out the National Sleep Foundation Recommendations, or OSU's very own Student Health Services' tips for getting good sleep, and then take some time to evaluate your sleep hygiene: what's your sleep schedule, what are your sleep rituals, how are you taking care of your sleep time and self, what changes can you make going forward?
Want to talk about this stuff with someone? We're here to chat. Come into the ASC and see a strategist — you don't need an appointment, you can just swing by and let us know what you want to talk about. We can sit down with you and help you consider the schedule you have currently, take stock of all of your commitments, re-vision your schedule and prioritize your sleep: Waldo Hall 125 | Monday thru Friday | 9 AM to 5 PM.