While it is obvious that hard work and motivation are important facets of success in college, there are other factors that come into play that can be easily overlooked. As a matter of fact, one of the most important keys to success in college is something babies may be better at than college students…and that is getting enough sleep.
According to experts at the University of Michigan, the amount of sleep college students get is one of the most powerful predictors of college academic success. While sleep is a key part of academic success, researchers have also found that students cite academic stress as having a negative impact on sleep.
Similarly, researchers led by Arne Eliasson and colleagues found that college students with the highest level of academic performance went to bed earlier and woke up earlier. Naps were also more typical for high performing students. Interestingly, timing of wake-up and sleep had a stronger correlation to academic performance than the overall amount of sleep.
Sleep Tips Unlock the Secret to How to Succeed in College
If you are a current college student looking to perform better, or a soon-to-be college student looking for tips on how to succeed in college, there are plenty of things you can do. Improving your sleep is at the top of the list. Here are 8 tips to get more sleep in college:
- Make sleep a priority. There are so many things to do at college that sleep can feel more like a nuisance than a priority. Regardless of how many clubs you join, classes you take, people you date, and sports you play, make sure to make the time to get enough sleep. Wondering how much sleep you need? Find out more about age specific sleep recommendations*.
- Stay organized. Cramming for tests and doing projects at the last minute often leads to sleepless nights and even so-called “all nighters” where you never go to sleep. Last minute studying that cuts into your sleep routine won’t likely lead to good grades but will much more likely lead to exhaustion and all the problems that go along with that. By making a study schedule and studying along the way, you’ll be more prepared for exams and better able to maintain a healthy sleep schedule too.
- Get enough physical activity. A key part of falling to sleep quickly and sleeping soundly each night involves having enough physical activity during the day. People who engage in regular physical activity tend to sleep better. Of course some people are negatively affected by activity if it is done too close to bedtime so try to plan it right to optimize your rest.
- Choose healthy foods and beverages. You are responsible for the foods and drinks that you put into your body and this becomes quickly apparent when you leave home for college. Sugary foods and caffeinated beverages can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep. Try to make nutritious choices that will help you feel good and sleep well.
- Get your roommate on board. If you have to share a room, other people can make getting a good night’s sleep extra difficult. Be direct with your roommate about your sleep schedule and try to reach a friendly agreement about how to handle noise and lights in the room when you are trying to sleep.
- Create a sound sleep environment. Temperature, lighting, noise, and bedding all play a role in the quality of your sleep environment. If you find that you are getting distracted by your room environment, try to make the necessary changes to fix things. A room can be made much darker with some light blocking curtains, cooler with a fan, warmer with a space heater, and quieter with a sound machine.
- Limit electronics before bed. If you are living in a dorm room, you are likely surrounded by electronics ranging from alarm clocks, to telephones, to televisions, computers, stereos, game systems, and more. Finding a way to limit electronics before bed can be difficult, especially if you are busy writing papers, texting with friends, or listening to music, but it can be a very smart strategy if you are trying to improve your sleep.
- If you are having problems, seek help. As exciting as college is, it can also be very stressful. If you are away at college and are having academic or personal problems that you can’t seem to resolve on your own, seek help. Many people struggle with stress-related sleep interruptions. Most colleges have a university health service that provides counseling and other helpful support services to students.
Getting enough quality sound sleep is very important for people of all ages. It might be especially important for college students who are juggling many different responsibilities and are often times away from home for the first time. For more sleep tips and related information about the benefits of sleep, follow the sleep blog at Sleep Outfitters.