March 7-13 is National Sleep Awareness Week, as we get ready to lose an hour of sleep this coming weekend with the start of Daylight Savings Time on March 14.
Life in college is unique in many ways, but one way in particular is the constant schedule changes. In high school, your day likely started and ended at the same time every weekday, except for those outrageously sweet SNOW DAYS!
In college, your class schedule is different each quarter, and often each weekday. Balancing that with work schedules, other commitments, and perhaps even a social life just does not leave time for much sleep in a 24-hour day.
This can lead to sleep problems, which in turn can lead to poor academic performance, depression, irritability, overeating, relationship problems (including sexual dysfunctions), and increased risk for injuries or automobile crashes.
Here are some suggestions for healthier sleep adapted from Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep, from the National Institutes for Health:
- Go to bed and wake up the same time each day.
- Exercise is great but not too late in the day.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, especially 4-6 hours before bed.
- Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
- If possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep, and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure about your medicines.
- Don’t take naps after 3 p.m, and no longer than 30-45 minutes.
- Relax before bed (light reading, listening to music, warm bath).
- Have a good sleeping environment, and reserve the bed for sleep and sex only, not studying or other activities.
- Have at least 30 minutes of sunlight (or bright light) exposure every day.
- Don’t lie in bed awake more than 15-20 minutes If you can’t sleep, get up and do something relaxing.
- See a doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping.
The medical staff at Student Health Services or your family doctor can assist if you consistently find yourself falling asleep, feeling tired or not well rested during the day despite what feels like adequate sleep at night.
Don’t forget to change your clocks before you go to bed this Saturday!
Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University