"That's IMPOSSIBLE. You've got to be kidding."
That's the typical reaction I get anytime I tell someone that I regularly get eight hours of sleep every night. As a full-time college student who juggles a student government position, sorority membership and a part-time job, it can be hard to obtain the necessary amount of sleep. But since I've made sleep a priority, I manage to get those crucial eight hours every night. Here are five steps I swear by that will help any college student get a good night's rest.
1. Do not sign up for early morning classes.
Having the power to choose when you go to class is huge - use it. I am in the second semester of my freshman year and I have yet to take a class that begins before 11 a.m. Waking up with the sun shining makes me feel so much more motivated to start the day, rather than rolling out of bed when it's still dark out. Scheduling your classes later in the day offers a larger window of time to get your full eight hours of sleep. If you struggle to catch up on sleep, don't sign up for 8 a.m. classes. Keep on snoozing until late morning.
2. When the clock strikes twelve, it's time to stop the homework.
Turns out Cinderella was definitely onto something! If your homework starts to run past midnight, call it quits and shut it down for the evening. If you prioritize homework that is due the next day, you'll always have assignments with immediate deadlines completed at a reasonable hour. If you have time leftover, then you can work ahead. Enforcing a cutoff time for homework ensures that you don't get carried away working into the wee hours of the morning.
3. Don't go out EVERY night.
College is the time and place to go out and party with your friends--in moderation! If you're staying out every night and getting up early for classes, there is just no way to get the sleep you need. What's the point in going out if you're just going to be exhausted all night and wiped out the next day? Stick to partying on the weekends when you know you can catch up on sleep the next morning.
4. Don't binge on Netflix until 2 a.m.
Actually, don't do anything on an electronic device that late. According to the National Sleep Foundation, light emitted from your laptop, tablet or cellphone stimulates your brain, making it harder for your mind to calm down and get ready for sleep. I get it, I love ending my day by laying in bed and watching an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" on Netflix! But force yourself to ignore the "one more episode!" urge and give your brain a chance to relax and wind down.
5. It's okay to say no every once in awhile.
I still have trouble with this one. Coming from someone who loves to stay busy and be involved on campus, I recognize how exciting it can be to fit in as many activities as possible. But don't be afraid to cut yourself a break. You can't be all things to all people. It's completely acceptable to reschedule a lunch date or miss a club meeting from time to time if it means giving yourself an opportunity for some much-needed rest. Take a nap! You deserve it.
The fact of the matter is: it's difficult to get a full night's rest in college, but not impossible. Even just trying one or two of these tricks can make a positive impact on your sleep habits. By making sleep a priority you'll feel happier, healthier, and enjoy college life that much more.
This post is part of our series on sleep culture on college campuses. To join the conversation and share your own story, please email our Director of College Outreach Abby Williams directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can find out here if the #SleepRevolution College Tour will be visiting your campus, and learn how you can get involved. If your college is not one of the colleges already on our tour and you want it to be, please get in touch with Abby.