By 8:30 pm, I’m tired. By 9:30 pm, I’m normally in bed. 10 pm? Sleeping. If I stay up past 11 pm, I’m sure to be cranky. Some would say it’s a blessing and others would say it’s a curse that I feel like I absolutely have to go to bed so early.
Me? I’m grateful for my body’s reminder that after a long, full day, it’s time for me to allow my mind and body to rest.
No matter how young or how old you are, sleep is important. Some of the biggest offenders of ignoring the importance of sleep seem to be teenagers and early twenty-somethings (*cough* college students). Late night activities and early morning deadlines can add up to short nights of sleep. With back-to-school season starting in full swing, it’s time to talk about the importance of sleep… even for college students.
The Importance of Sleep: How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Body
- Trouble concentrating.
- Mood changes.
- Weakened immunity.
- Weight gain.
- Higher risk of chronic diseases.
And these are only five of the effect of sleep deprivation on your body. There are more! Losing sleep quite literally changes your body and mind. Without some good ole R&R, our bodies struggle. So, if you find yourself having trouble concentrating, feeling irritable or sad, getting sick frequently or struggling to lose weight, gaining weight or feeling overly hungry and unmotivated to workout, it may be time to look at your sleeping pattern.
Now, let’s not dwell on the negatives. You want to change your sleeping schedule and get a good night’s rest? Here’s how you can help your body do that:
How to Get a Good Night’s Rest
- Keep your bed your relaxing space. Although it can be tempting to stay in bed while finishing up some last minute work, avoiding working in bed may help your sleep. By working in bed, you trick your brain into thinking of this space as a work zone (because that’s how you’re using it!). Then, it’s harder to calm your brain and get into relaxing mode to fall asleep. Do yourself a favor, work at your desk, walk into your room ready to relax and your brain will follow suit.
- Get comfy. This may seem like an obvious one, but sometimes it isn’t! Make your bed cozy. If you wake up with an aching back, it may be time to flip your mattress… maybe even buy a new one. If you wake up cold, it may be time to invest in a few soft throw blankets. Listen to your body and let it be as comfy as it can be. Personally, I love sleeping with a bunch of pillows around me and the covers up to my ears. That makes me comfy — but it won’t be the same for everyone. If you’re having trouble with your mattress and don’t want to get a brand new mattress, you may want to try a topper.I’m currently testing out the Therapedic® 3″ Deluxe Quilted Memory Foam Mattress Topper. It’s great for college students because it’s available in Twin XL for those tricky-to-fit dorm room beds. The foam is ventilated to help keep you cool at night while the treated cover helps keep out odors. Since it’s memory foam, you really sink into the mattress. It’s soft for anyone suffering from an overly hard mattress (like those dorm room beds can have). Needless to say, it could be a new back-to-college essential. The Therapedic® brand is offered exclusively at Bed, Bath and Beyond!
- Try to stick to a schedule. On a Friday and Saturday night, it can be hard to stick to any sort of sleep schedule. Your friends want to hang out, or you want to just stay up late and watch Netflix because you don’t have to be up early the next morning. The reality of the situation is that this is hurting your sleep. Even as adults, our bodies work well with sleep routines because of circadian rhythm (I could geek out about circadian rhythm for a couple paragraphs, but I’ll keep it to myself! It’s cool. Check it out.). Resist the temptation as much as possible to completely lose track of your schedule on the weekends. It can be hard, but if your sleep is suffering, it may be worth it!
- Reduce electronic use at night. By now, you have surely heard of blue light — it’s not good. Blue light is said to reduce our bodies’ production of melatonin more than any other type of light. Most experts suggest leaving electronics out of the bedroom and stopping use at least thirty minutes before laying down for bed. Many devices now have the option to turn on “night shift,” which eliminates blue light. You can also download an app like f.lux. F.lux adjusts your computer screen to match the lighting during various times of the day. The website explains that, “during the day, computer screens look good— they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun.” Through adjusting the lighting on your computer, f.lux will help you sleep better. Another great way to make screen time healthier is by investing in a pair of computer glasses.
It’s passed 9:30 pm, so you know what that means! I hope you enjoyed my first back-to-college post of 2017. I can’t believe it’s the second year I won’t actually be going back to school as I’m writing about it. Whether you’re out of college or going back to school, just make sure to remember the importance of sleep. Your body needs its shut eye.