Preparing for Healthy Sleep at College

A proper routine, especially when referring to sleep, is important for maintaining overall health and wellness. It is perceived by many students that obtaining little or no sleep while at college is not only normal but the only option. Luckily this is not the only option and with a few simple tips from The National Sleep Foundation, sleep will become a normal part of your student experience at The Ohio State University. By preparing ahead of time and adopting a few easy healthy sleep habits, you will obtain the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep college students need to be healthy, happy and successful.

  1. Go to bed at a consistent time and wake up at a consistent time. By keeping a regular bedtime and wake up time, you will help regulate your internal clock. An easy way to do this and keep a consistent sleep schedule is to schedule your classes at similar times each day if possible.
  2. Develop a nighttime routine before bed. A relaxing activity will tell your body that it is almost time to go to bed. Performing this activity consistently will lower your stress and energy levels before you fall asleep. Some ideas include:
    • Reading your favorite book
    • Taking a shower or bath
    • Meditation or mindfulness techniques
    • Writing in a journal
    • Drinking decaffeinated tea
  1. Try to avoid naps. If you can’t seem to fall asleep at nighttime, consider eliminating your afternoon naps. You will feel more tired at the end of your day.
  2. Exercise each day. Get up and move during the day, even if it’s light activity. This will slightly fatigue your body, making it easier to fall asleep at night.
  3. Prepare your bedroom. Design a proper sleep environment. Eliminate noises or other distractions. Be sure that your bedroom is set at a comfortable temperature. Discuss sleep habits with a roommate to ensure you a both getting the sleep environment that best suits your sleep style. If needed, consider including:
    • Blackout curtains
    • Humidifier
    • Fan
    • Ear plugs
    • Essential oil diffuser
  4. Sleep on a cozy mattress with comfortable pillows. If your mattress is very old, consider buying a new one. In situations where you can’t replace a mattress, such as moving into a dorm, consider bringing a mattress pad or additional cushion to create a mattress more closely related to your comfort level. Additionally, bring pillows that can adjust to your head.
  5. Limit use of electronics. The type of light emitted from screens activates the brain, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Refrain from using your phone, laptop, or other electronics at least one hour before bedtime.
  6. Avoid heavy consumption close to bedtime. Try to limit food and alcohol consumption minutes before bed. Be sure to consume caffeine earlier in the day. If you’re hungry before bedtime, try one of these simple and light snacks:
    • One slice of toasted bread with nut butter
    • Wheat crackers with cheese slices
    • Whole wheat cereal (Cheerios, Wheat Chex, Shredded Wheat, etc.) with low-fat milk
    • Cottage cheese
    • Serving of fruit
  1. Speak with your doctor. If you’re still having trouble sleeping, seek the medical advice of a professional. Your doctor can help you evaluate common patterns that you see with your sleeping habits.

Learn more at the Sleep Foundation website.