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.

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