Health Services: Sleep Your Way to Better Grades
Sleep has many positive effects on health and well-being, but many college students report getting insufficient sleep each night.
It’s necessary to develop good sleep habits in order to stay healthy and help your body and mind to rest and recharge. Sleep is closely related to stress. Experiencing stress often can be the cause of sleep troubles, and lack of sleep increase your stress. Healthy sleep habits include getting the quantity and quality of sleep that you need.
Sleep your way to better grades.
A good night’s sleep will help you do your best! Sleep is essential to help retain what you study and to keep you mentally sharp during exams. Depriving yourself of shut-eye impairs your memory, concentration, reaction time, and ability to process information. Avoid pulling all-nighters for exams and papers – a good night’s sleep will help you stay ahead of the curve. Try to sleep enough at night — don’t depend on daily, long naps to get through the day! However, if you do need a nap, try limiting your siesta to 20-30 minutes. While it’s important to avoid disrupting your body’s natural sleep cycle, a short nap in the afternoon to unwind can be a great way to recharge yourself for the rest of the day.
Feeling pressured to stay up all night?
Everyone needs a different amount of sleep to feel alert and rested throughout the day. Try to encourage your friends to get the sleep they need rather than bragging about how late you can stay up. You’ll be less moody, less stressed, and on top of your game!
Enhance your bedtime performance.
Use your bed for sleeping, not studying. Think of your bed as your sanctuary, free of work and stress – it’s no fun to wake up drooling on your textbook! Establish your bed as a comfortable, relaxing place and find other spaces to study. Get to bed and greet the morning at the same time every day. Maintain a consistent sleeping schedule. Maximize the benefits of sleep by keeping your weekday and weekend routines similar – oversleeping can throw off your body’s natural rhythms.
Having trouble falling asleep?
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and strenuous exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and can keep you tossing and turning at night. Don’t use alcohol as a sleeping pill. Alcohol may help you doze off, but can prevent you from entering deeper, more restorative sleep stages. While regular exercise can improve your sleep, strenuous exercise too close to bedtime can also make sleeping difficult. A warm shower can help ease your stress and help you sleep.
Decrease your stress level and get some shut eye.
Can’t clear your mind? Create a schedule including time for schoolwork, jobs, exercise, family, friends, and sleep. Write down on a note pad issues causing you stress– jotting them down on paper can help your mind relax.
Take a deep breath and take a stretch.
Deep breathing can calm your body and soothe your mind. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, focusing your attention on your diaphragm moving down and out. Breathe in for four counts, hold for two, and exhale for five counts. Repeat until you feel calmness and energy. Stretching can help relax your muscles. You can use just about any stretching technique you know or try this quick neck stretch: Reach your left arm over your head until your fingers are just touching the top of your right ear. Gently pull your head towards your left shoulder, feeling a subtle stretch through the right side of your neck. Hold for a few seconds and feel the muscle lengthen. Then do the same on the other side. Be careful, stretching should never cause pain, but if you do it gently and in the right spots, this can be a really powerful technique.
Constantly fighting a cold?
Frequent colds can by a sign that you might be depriving yourself of some much needed rest. Sleep can help boost your immune system. Sleep deprivation decreases your immune response and can make you more susceptible to infections. Get your sleep every day to keep sickness far away!
Sleep and your performance in school and on the field.
Sleep affects hormones that control your appetite and regulate energy expenditure and can affect your academic and athletic performance. Recent studies have shown that sleep loss can negatively affect your metabolism and make it difficult to maintain your energy balance. Consider sleep as important to your health as eating well and exercising.
If you are having trouble handing the stress, remember you can reach out to people who can help. Whether it’s a friend or a professional, getting support can do wonders to help you through a stressful time. The clinicians at Student Health Services can talk with you about your health. If you have questions or concerns or want to make an appointment, please call Haverford College Student Health Services at 610-896-1089.