Getting enough rest is one of the biggest challenges for college students to overcome.
There are always assignments to work on, tests to study for, research in the library, social invitations and myriad of other responsibilities students face every day. Some students seem to cope with this challenge well and find a balance that allows them to live a healthy life. But others struggle with finding this balance and soon find themselves, exhausted, overwhelmed, have difficulty coping with everyday life at the university. Two big reasons this happens to students is that they don’t eat right and they don’t get enough rest. Following are some questions to ask yourself if you are getting enough rest and the right kind of rest.
Cornell University psychologist James Maas reports that college students suffer the consequences of sleeping less than they should.
The Sleep Quiz
To see if you are getting enough rest answer the following true/false questions:
- I need an alarm clock in order to wake me at the appropriate time.
- It’s a struggle for me to get out of bed in the morning.
- Weekday mornings I hit the snooze button several times to get more sleep.
- I feel tired, irritable, and stressed out during the week.
- I have trouble concentrating and remembering.
- I feel slow with critical thinking, problem solving, and being creative.
- I often fall asleep watching t.v.
- I often fall asleep at boring meetings or lectures or in warm rooms.
- I often fall asleep after heavy meals or after a low dose of alcohol.
- I often fall asleep while relaxing after dinner.
- I often fall asleep within five minutes of getting into bed.
- I often feel drowsy while driving.
- I often sleep extra hours on weekend mornings.
- I often need a nap to get through the day.
- I have dark circles around my eyes.
If you answered “true” to three or more items, you probably are not getting enough sleep. To determine your sleep needs, Maas recommends that you – go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual every night for the next week. Continue this practice by adding 15 more minutes each week until you wake without an alarm clock and feel alert through the day.
Sleep helps restore and repair brain tissue. IT helps us remember the day’s experiences. People can recall tasks or information better after a night’s sleep than after several hours awake. It has been shown that after working on a project, then sleeping on it, people solve problems more insightfully.
Natural Ways to Fall Asleep
- Relax before bedtime and spend some time with the lights dimmed.
- Avoid caffeine at dinner and in the evenings.
- Sleep on a regular schedule – try and get to bed each night at about the same time and awake at the same time each morning.
- Avoid taking naps.
- Exercise regularly but avoid exercise just before bedtime.
Other Ways to Stay Healthy
- Eat regular meals and eat healthy (don’t skip meals or substitute soda and a candy bar or chips for a meal).
- Spend 10 or 15 minutes two or three times a day relaxing and clearing your mind.
- Practice time management and organization skills so that you don’t get overwhelmed by your day-to-day responsibilities.
The sleep quiz by James B. Mass, Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind and Body for Peak Performance. New York: Harper Collins 1999.