Sleep 101

How sleep affects your health, happiness, and well-being in college.

Most college students know sleep matters. But most assume they have to choose between sleep, school, and social life.

Fortunately that isn’t true.

Not only is healthy sleep the number one predictor of academic success in college, but you can use sleep to your advantage to get the most out of college both in and outside of class.

Building sleep into your life is not only a way to boost your GPA but can also make you a better athlete and team player; reduce your risk of depression, weight gain, colds, and skin problems; keep you safe on the road; and improve your overall quality of life.

Sleep in College

Students who know how to get healthy sleep can use it as a genuine performance enhancer in the classroom – which may be why students who sleep better have higher GPAs.

But using sleep to optimize academic performance takes more than just getting enough sleep. Equally important is getting plenty of uninterrupted sleep on a consistent schedule.

Sleep and GPA

A cup of morning coffee or an afternoon latte is a daily ritual for millions of people.

Caffeine – the world’s most popular drug – can give an energy boost and help provide focus during a long drive or study session.

Too much caffeine, though, can make you feel anxious and jittery and even cause a racing heart; also, caffeine too close to bedtime interferes with quality sleep.

It’s important to know how much caffeine is in coffee, tea, and energy drinks and supplements, and to know what amount of caffeine is safe for you to consume on a daily basis.

How to Use Caffeine Safely

When you’re sleep deprived, you’re much more likely to hurt yourself and others – whether on the road, in the lab, at work, or on the playing field.

Besides slowing your reaction time, sleep deprivation clouds your judgment, making you more likely to put yourself into risky situations and to make unsafe decisions.

Sleepiness impairs the brain’s performance in the same way as drinking alcohol- and is just as risky when you’re behind the wheel of a car.

College students are at particularly high risk because in young adulthood the brain most easily transitions from wakefulness to sleep, sometimes instantaneously.

It’s surprisingly easy to get into the car feeling wide awake and start nodding off five or ten minutes later. Sleepiness also slows reaction time, making it harder to slam on the brakes in time.

Drowsy Driving

Getting good sleep is critical not just for staying mentally sharp, but also for many aspects of physical and mental health.

When people get too little sleep on a chronic basis, sleep deprivation may occur, increasing the risk for many health problems. These include heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and maybe even a shorter lifespan.

Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are associated with sleep deprivation, too.

Even over the short term, too little sleep can weaken your immune system making colds and other illnesses more likely.

70% of college students don’t get enough sleep, and 20% of college students say they have pulled an all-nighter at least once in the past month.

Trying to squeeze sleep in around studying, social life, and other work and school obligations can seem like a real challenge, but it’s important: students who have poor sleep don’t do as well in college.

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule, optimizing your sleep environment, and performing a “digital detox” before bedtime can make it more likely that you’ll get a good night’s sleep.

How to Sleep Well in a Dorm

Further Information about Sleeping Disorders

Excessive daytime sleepiness
Irregular breathing or increased movement during sleep
Difficulty sleeping
Abnormal sleep behaviors

Establish bedtime routine
Do not drink liquids before bed
Create a quiet and dark environment
Turn all technology off
Keep a consistent sleep schedule
If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed
Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet
Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening
Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime