A special thanks to Sarah Jones, today’s guest blogger.
You’ve probably been drilled about the importance of getting a good night’s rest from your parents and teachers your entire life — and there’s a good reason for that! A full eight hours of shuteye not only makes you less cranky in the morning, it can be the difference between acing that midterm paper next semester or struggling through it, only to earn a C+.
If you’re a high school or college student, you need to start taking care of your sleep schedule now — the sooner, the better. Here’s a look at why getting enough sleep is so important as well as some tips to help you find the time.
So Many “More Important” Things to do Than Sleep
I know it can be hard to cultivate a good night’s sleep when you’re trying to enjoy your days off, study for class, go to work, or even attend class for that matter. It’s hard to find time to do anything! Where is the time for yourself?
You can actually work in some much needed “me-time” right into your sleeping routine. When figuring out a sleeping schedule, consider adding in extra time to include personal care, light reading, or even a craft you enjoy to help your brain wind down.
Between class, work, friends, and studying — not to mention extracurricular activities and athletic obligations — it can sometimes feel like there’s little time left for a college student to sleep. But fixing your sleep schedule should be at the top of your to-do list, because it’ll make everything else easier.
Beating Jet Lag
If the university you will be attending is in a different time zone, make sure that you slowly acclimate yourself to the time change before classes start. Go to sleep 10 – 15 minutes earlier each night until you are on the same time zone as your college.
If you are going to be in a time zone more than eight hours different than you are currently accustomed to, then at least work your way up to two or three hours away from your normal bedtime. That way, when you arrive on campus it won’t be such a shock to your system. Hopefully, the jet lag won’t be too bad either.
Enjoy Your Daytime More
People who are sleep savvy tend to be more efficient, cheerful, and at ease during their waking hours. A revitalizing sleep session regulates your hormones and helps you to maintain a healthy weight. You will have more focus and your memory will be more effective at retaining the information your psych professor is tossing at you next semester.
If you are sacrificing your sleep in order to study, work, or exercise, those activities will suffer, and your efforts might be wasted. If you make the decision to get a full night of rest, the quality of the work you produce will be better. Doing your homework will take less effort and working your day job will be less stressful: it is all a positive cycle.
Stress is the Culprit
The number one cause of sleep loss is stress. According to a study of over 1,000 college students, Roxanne Prichard, a professor at The University of St. Thomas, found that: “ Feeling stressed provided the largest explanatory power for poor sleep quality…” So even if you are carving out the recommended eight hours of sleep, the quality of that sleep might be compromised if you have a lot of stressors in your life.
To keep your stress levels in check, try some of the tips suggested in this article to manage student stress.
Better Sleep = Higher GPA
Professors William Kelly (University of Nevada at Las Vegas), Katheryn Kelly (Louisiana Tech University) and Robert Clanton (University of Arkansas at Monticello) preformed a scientific study in 2001 in order to gauge the correlation between sleep and students’ GPA. Not surprisingly, their results showed that students who slept less than six hours during the night had an average GPA of 2.74. Whereas students who slept longer than 9 hours had a GPA average of 3.24. Students who got in an average 7-8 hours per night had an average GPA of 3.01.
That’s not to say you will automatically get a higher GPA just because you sleep for nine hours a night. The point here, is that the time you spend sleeping will pay you back tenfold in the quality of your waking hours. You will be able to better comprehend the world around you and take things to heart. You will be much more inspired to write that five page term paper if you are well rested. Don’t push yourself to the brink of exhaustion, that achieves nothing.
The Bottom Line
Clearly sleep is good and stress is bad, right? But how can we cut down on the stress and prioritize our sleep-hygiene in our crazy, fast paced world, with tests to study for and work to be done? Take a deep breath and pencil in some snuggle time with your pillow. The easiest way to ensure you have time in the day to get the sleep you need is to set a schedule and stick to it.
You’ll be happy you did. If you get better sleep at night, then you are sure to perform better during your day.
How much sleep are you getting on average? What are your reasons behind not getting enough sleep? Do you sacrifice sleep to get “more” things done? Let us know in the comments below!
About Sarah Jones
Sarah turned her former sleep deprivation into an obsession with improving sleep quality. She writes about sleep and encourages others to improve their sleep health at Sleepy Deep.