There’s a phrase for university students: “I’ll sleep when I graduate”, and it is an ironic joke—mostly because, sadly, it’s true. We tell ourselves it’s a few more minutes, you’ll make up the time later, but when you finish your work you realize an hour or more has passed. By morning, if it’s an all-nighter, you’re tired and you have to get over it and attend class. You may find yourself falling asleep halfway through, which disrupts your learning process. You don’t take notes, you’re too tired to focus, and you miss the lecture.
Sleep is a luxury. You can make the time up later, but it will affect your overall sleep cycle. The best way to get ample sleep is to maintain a proper sleep cycle. But let’s get serious, being a post-secondary student with several classes, readings for those classes, and midterms a month into the school year, sleep is usually the first thing to take a back seat. Then there are those of us who have jobs and there’s the travel time, the act of working, and then you have to head home, and whether you’re exhausted or not, you have to tread through it.
Look up how many hours of sleep you’re supposed to be getting, and you’ll get a range of anywhere between seven and nine hours with seven as the minimum. Some of you may be getting this amount and you should definitely be proud of that, but not all of us are this lucky.
Not getting enough sleep can have many consequences on our health:
- It affects cognitive function, and for post-secondary students, this isn’t a good thing.
- Cognitive function includes concentration, reasoning, ability to learn and understand material properly, and problem solving.
- Increases your risk of diabetes and heart attack
- Increases your body mass index because of increase in appetite, resulting in weight gain
- High blood pressure, and even
- Premature death
Now what I’m typing isn’t anything new or something you couldn’t have found through a quick Google search. The bullet points tell you why you should sleep but here are some suggestions on how to achieve this:
- Create a schedule ahead of time. Make it flexible – it’s there to help you organize your time.
- Review your syllabus, grab a pen and calendar, and write the important dates
- Look at your work schedule and do the same
- Schedule something fun
- Turn off the screens. Remove all distractions. When sleeping, put your electronics in a drawer and turn them off. This reduces the risk of interruptions.
- Relax. Don’t think about anything else but relaxation. When trying to sleep, thinking is another distraction.
- Always eat breakfast, one with protein and carbs. Make sure you have small snacks throughout the day. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Schedule time for fun. This may seem impossible, but a lack of sleep will make you cranky, leave you unmotivated, and make you long for sleep.
These small steps are just a start to help you get a few more hours of sleep. The rest is up to you. Sweet dreams.