Learn How to Sleep Enough to Be Productive: Tips for College Students

Sleeping Girl

More and more young people are having troubles with sleeping well. Why do we have such a situation? From a physiological point of view, there are two mechanisms. On the one hand, when we are teenagers, sleep cycle evolves in its structure. The share of deep sleep decreases in favor of light sleep. It is an absolutely normal change: a person changes at this age from the child’s sleep cycle to that of the adult. It is, therefore, a possible factor of insomnia since there is a bigger chance of awakening during the night.

Sleep Cycle of a Teenager: Staying Awake at Night

And then, when hitting puberty, about a third of all young people can experience another phenomenon, called a «phase delay of sleep». They have trouble falling asleep before 11 pm or midnight. It is a physiological change in relation to the hormonal evolution. Once they are asleep, their sleep is of good quality, but they still need to sleep an average of 9 hours per night, and that cannot be achieved anymore due to the fact that a person could not fall asleep early. This leads to teenagers being not focused during their classes or writing essays because they do not get nearly enough rest at night.

What Can You Do If You Have This Problem?

Sleeping Clock

You can try to not aggravate things with the behavior of night owls. Avoid watching a movie after work or surfing the Internet after 11 p.m. More often than not, it is not easy to achieve because our way of life offers us a lot of opportunities for entertaining activities in the evening. Moreover, some assignments connected with studying – for example, writing an essay – may present us a tough deadline to meet. Still, there is no point in lying down at 9 p.m., because when your biological clock is off, you cannot fall asleep early. Hence, you should find your perfect time to go to sleep when you want. Even then, you should make sure that you do not go to sleep too late. You can then reset your biological clock and sleeping schedule during the weekend by sleeping until 11 a.m. on Saturday or Sunday. But no matter what, it is important to sleep in moderation, because otherwise you will not be able to fall asleep on Sunday night and this vicious circle becomes even worse. Then there will be seemingly no escape from it.

Useful Techniques to Fight This Problem

To maintain your sleeping schedule, you can use light therapy which consists of exposing yourself to a strong light source in the morning: either the sunlight or that of a high-intensity lamp that can be placed next to you during breakfast. This light informs your brain and allows to synchronize your biological clock with the day-night rhythm: this blocks the secretion of the sleeping hormone, melatonin, in the morning, and stimulates it in the evening. It is also a method that can be used at the beginning of the school year and after long holidays as you have become accustomed to going to bed very late. A few days before going back to school, it is necessary to get up early in the morning and to expose yourself to the light. This way, you can gradually advance the time of falling asleep.

Why Is It Not Advisable to Have a Computer Screen in the Room?

If you know how to turn your computer off and get enough sleep, then you will not have an issue with having your PC directly in your bedroom. But more often than not, computers interfere with sleep cycles in two ways. First of all, the light of a screen tends to block the secretion of melatonin, just like the morning light, and therefore it delays falling asleep. Moreover, if you are working on the computer till late at night while dealing with your assignments and writing essays, your internal clock shifts. For instance, if you live in New York, your biological rhythm is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or in the West Indies!

How Not to Stay Awake Because of Studying All Night

With the Internet, there is another difficulty, which is rather psychological in its nature: it is very difficult to stop because it is an activity without end. Also, it is hard to stop doing something, like writing an essay, unless you finish it. In case of browsing the Internet, Google just leads you to another site, then to another one, and you are caught up in the never-ending web. And the situation only gets worse when the chat applications are involved. If this is your case, it may be better to have different rooms reserved for sleep and work. The brain finds it easier because it does not like the mixture of activities, it perceives your room and your bed as sleep signals, as well as the brushing of teeth, taking shower and wearing pajamas: these bedtime rituals help with falling asleep.

How to Deal with Sleep Cycle and Studying

Another sleep related problem of young people is that many of them are stressed by their studies and essay deadlines. To some extent and for limited periods, stress is normal and challenging. But some people experience constant anxiety that is above average in its intensity. That is what keeps them from falling asleep, as they worry about their problems nonstop. They are under considerable academic pressure. What is more, those who are more worried for their future and grades for their essays than others may end up developing a special type of anxiety called «performance anxiety».

What Do We Advise Against Stress Insomnia?

First of all, you should be oriented towards the psycho-physiological techniques of relaxation. If they are done well, they will prove to be effective and safe. We can also give you advice on how to keep up a decent sleeping routine: after you come home after your classes, you should work and write essays early enough in the day or evening. After that, do some relaxing activities; try to take care of your mind and nothing else. Regular sport (practiced during the day) also has good effects on sleep as it deepens it. Finally, we encourage you to discuss this stress with adults you can trust, possibly your family.

Sleepless Nights

Student Parties

Sleepless nights are something that is being practiced a lot by young people so that they can attend a student party or write an essay before the deadline. The great danger of the night without sleeping is that we all have a strong tendency to fall asleep at around 3-4 am when our temperature curve is at its lowest. We advise those who go out to try and find a place sleep anyway. Many young people are starting to drink alcohol at such parties, but you have to know that even if you do not drink, we all have a lower level of vigilance at night, so this is the worst time to drive a car. Alcohol also tends to make it easier to fall asleep, but it causes an awakening in the night. In turn, this leads to the light sleep of poor quality.

Writing Essays at Night

Studying Late at Night

Some students also try to study and write essays while thinking they work better at night. Quite often, the reason for that is that they are calmer and more focused. If someone works late because he or she is more productive at night while maintaining satisfactory results at school and feeling good during the day, then such lifestyle does not cause any problems. It is up to everyone to know their own body. However, if the sleepless nights and sleep deprivation are too frequent, there may be deleterious effects. For instance, the intellectual abilities of concentration, attention, and memorization are diminished as learning is consolidated by sleeping. What is more, it is now known that lack of sleep can promote weight gain or obesity. At night, a lot of things happen to the regulation of health. When the rhythms of sleep are disturbed, it touches upon an enormous number of functions. So if you need to write an essay, try to start writing in advance, and sleep at night. By the way, if your essay’s deadline is soon, but you do want to sleep at night, you can order your paper online.

How to Find the Right Rhythm of Sleep?

You should identify your behavior in its typology: questionnaires and tests make it possible to know whether you are the morning or evening person, for instance, or if you are a short or a long sleeper. A fairly large number of young people are more likely to be the evening type, but if you are the morning person and you have a job to finish, it will be better to go to bed early and to do it the next morning. To find out how many hours of sleep you need, go to sleep when you are especially tired and get up without alarm clock: if you feel well during the next day, that is your rhythm. Someone can sleep 5-6 hours a night and work very well during the day. Others, however, may discover that they also need a nap in the afternoon.

Be Regular

Our biological clock allows taking naps in the early afternoon and if you have the possibility, the nap counts at the time of daily sleep. When you have found your rhythm, try to follow it as much and as often as possible so that you will not disorganize your internal clocks.

Avoid Insomnia

Are there any tips to avoid insomnia? Its causes can be different: alcohol, coffee, too much noise, stress, sleepless nights, addiction to video games, etc. You should know the pitfalls that concern you and then adopt the appropriate lifestyle. For example, do not take coffee or energy drinks if you are sensitive to caffeine. If your sleep does not last well and you do not see the reason for it, talk to your doctor, as this can be a sign of psychological difficulties and mood disorders that your doctor can treat. But in general, the difficulties disappear with the introduction of the healthy lifestyle. This is important because it would be a problem to have insomnia when you are about to enter adult life.

How to Find Motivation to Study and Write Essays

Books and Notes

Motivation is a powerful energy that can lead to success. Many students feel like they are stuck in college or that they cannot find inspiration to write their essays. Thus, they feel unhappy and depressed. Some of them cannot start working on their assignments and manage their daily routine. You can find some tips on how to organize your studying process here.

Why Should You Do That?

It is hard to find motivation. Yet, all learning specialists say: a motivated student has already taken a winning ticket for the race in which he or she participates. All the senses are awake in order to capture and memorize important points. His or her attention and listening skills are much better than those of a not motivated student. As this motivated student wants to pass exams or write an essay, he or she looks for the best learning strategies, even going so far as to focus on some subjects outside the program! The first results are encouraging: motivated students gain self-confidence and see their progress, they write high quality essays and even discover the pleasure of learning.

Building a Project That Gives Meaning to Your Work

Motivation does not magically appear every year in September right before you go to college. It is also not a matter of preferences for a subject: it is not enough to find History interesting to be motivated to study it. As education specialists say, every student needs to know what he or she is working for and why, what is the purpose and consequences of these actions in the future.

How to Do It?

First of all, whatever your level of education is, you should try to identify or specify your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself in three, five, ten years? This question also applies to those who have succeeded in studying, but simply do not know what they want to do later in college. Some students come to a career advisor to help them find out what exactly they want to do in college. The lucky ones already have a specific profession in mind: engineer, accountant, IT specialist, interpreter, etc. So, there are choices that you have to make in order to proceed with your life, and once you have made them, you should keep your purpose and this image of yourself in mind. Write down your goal and look at it when you feel discouraged or do not have the motivation to write an essay or deal with your home assignment.

How Can You Feel Like Home in College: Make Friends

Students Laughing

Motivation also depends on emotional and human factors outside of the studies themselves: if you start your academic year in a college where you have no friends, a few friendly contacts and no recognition from your teachers, you are at risk of feeling less and less motivated as time goes on. When I was a student myself, I came up with some conclusions and essential tips on how to be happy with your environment in college. At the beginning of the year, first year students do not know anyone yet, so remember to try your best and make some new friends! Do not feel uncomfortable to just meet your classmates and talk to them about their reasons to choose this college, which topics they prefer for their essays, etc. In conclusion, at the beginning of each year, take time to open yourself up to others and be engaged in some extra-curricular activities: sports, clubs, associations, music bands, the organization of cultural events, etc. You will feel much better in college and will be able to focus on your studies and writing essays.

The Hardest Part Is to Start

The previous parts were about some preparation steps. And now, how to start writing an essay and find enough motivation for it? If you are waiting for when you are going to feel motivated to get started, you are likely to stay at the starting point and not go anywhere for a long time. Why? Because motivation comes after action, after you started writing an essay or got involved in your project. This was the result of the research of the scientists specialized on education. For instance, let us say you sign up for some swimming lessons in winter. At the moment of leaving home, the idea of ​​being about to immerse yourself in the cold water may bother you greatly. However, after two hours of training, you finally feel like you are in great shape. Thus, you are motivated for the next lesson.

Be Strong and Start Doing Something Important

To start the engine of your motivation, you should simply start studying. For example, write the introduction for your essay. The closer you get to the goal, the more your motivation will increase. That is why moments like the beginning of the year, the semester, the day or the time when you have to go to work after classes are so strategic. Here, you should activate your strong will that will keep you from sleeping or playing games.

Set Small Goals

Cute Goal Map

To motivate yourself on a daily basis, finishing your project may not be a good enough goal as it is still far away. So, you have to set objectives for small successes, too. It is then necessary to divide the year goal (to finish your academic year, to get an internship in a big company, to know French, to write a final essay for 20 pages) into a series of small goals that will lead you to the big one: for the semester, for the month, for the week and even for a day. In big and successful companies, where the question of motivation also arises, employees are asked to set SMART objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and defined in Time. In your studies, always be realistic in relation to your abilities, whether it is increasing your average grade by 2 points or finishing the revision of a chapter. Always prefer the strategy of small steps with great ambitions: you gain small successes that increase your motivation.

Manage to Overcome the First Obstacles

Even the most motivated student cannot maintain the same level of involvement throughout a whole year. Tiredness, boredom, difficulty in learning, disappointments and doubts can become an obstacle to your productivity. However, if your chosen field of studies is the one you wanted to know more about, the road to success in college will always be pleasant, even though intellectual work itself sometimes involves painful efforts. Moreover, every discipline has some difficult elements; every occupation has its chores, its obligatory actions that involve hard work. A musician must play the instrument for hours and practice their skills, and the high-level athlete admits that he should suffer while training to achieve success. Do not give up your efforts (or your studies) when you face your first obstacle.

Reduce Your Efforts: Do Not Work at the Last Moment

Student with Books

In order to be successful, but not exhausted from hard work, one should learn how to minimize his or her efforts. Avoid leaving studying for the last day before the exam. Instead, try to study regularly. It is also better to have short but frequent work sessions rather than long hours during which you are less focused. If you start studying, preparing for exams or writing essays in advance and you have a clear plan and small goals, you will overcome the obstacles one after the other while gaining confidence in yourself. It is like hiking in the mountains: if you look at the distance that separates you from the summit at the start, you feel defeated in advance. However, after starting walking, you slowly but steadily get closer to the goal, and you are almost surprised when you achieve it.

Use Available Tools to Get Motivated

This often happens in fall, as it is the time when there are dead leaves and bad weather, and students receive their first bad grades. So, pay attention and do not get overwhelmed by discouragement. You must know how to react to some failures in order to save your motivation. This is the time to analyze your mistakes and adjust your working methods. Both the colleges and the universities help students improve their methodology. You can even find interesting ideas for note taking, time management, memorization, personal or group work and tutoring on the Internet. For instance, you can download inspirational pictures and ideas for organizing your working place here. Know how to use all tools that are available to you. And while we have an ever-expanding range of resources, it is easier to find your personal motivation.

Be Prepared to Failures and Celebrate Your Success

Be prepared to face some bad results, and know how to make them a part of your development and road to success. Nothing in your life should be missed – notice every point to learn on your actions or mistakes. Look at your gains, congratulate yourself on the obstacles you have managed to overcome. Analyze how you achieved that, what is your most successful method to study and set a new realistic and easy-to-reach goal: read and learn the next paragraph well while staying focused for at least 20 minutes or review a difficult chapter. When you have reached it, congratulate yourself again. You can even celebrate by eating out, going to an interesting event or buying a small present. Your motivation will thus be growing gradually. You are not a loser, you are an amazing and wonderful person just the way you are. You will definitely achieve success, and we ask you only to believe in yourself. Just stand in front of the mirror every day and say: «Yes, I can!»