College insomnia should really have its own classification in the insomnia world, especially since a college student’s living situation is so different from just about any other.
I mean, really — where else do you cram hundreds of 18-year-olds into one thin-walled building with limited shower space?
Combine that with challenging college-level classes and the fact that college is often the first time students are living away from home, and college student stress and sleepless nights become inevitable.
Here’s what you can do to maximize your sleep time:
1. Try earplugs.
Whether your neighbor is hosting the dorm party of the century or your roommate can’t stop facetiming with her boyfriend back home into the wee hours of the morning, ear plugs can help block out all types of noises that lead to college insomnia.
They’re cheap and easy to use.
Pro Tip: If you’re worried you won’t be able to hear your alarm, try putting your phone on vibrate and sleeping next to it.
2. Drown out noise with white noise.
If ear plugs aren’t enough to beat college insomnia, you may have to break out the big guns: white noise. You can either buy (or petition your parents to buy) a white noise machine, or just pop in your iPod headphones and listen to something soothing as you drop off to sleep. You can even get earbuds specifically designed to block out background noise.
One study on the most popular music to fall asleep to ranks Coldplay as number one in sleepy-time music. Other great choices include meditation tapes and classical music. And I’ve had personal success while podcasts.
3. Create a sleepy space.
By making your bedroom clean and comfortable, you can make your sleeping space more attractive. Nobody wants to crawl into a bed of crumpled sheets and dirty laundry. Keep your sleeping space clean, invest in a plushy duvet and big pillows, and you’ll be happier to curl up in bed every night.
Putting effort into decorating your dorm room can help make your room more relaxing as well, which is a good step toward warding off college insomnia.
Besides the obvious fact that exercise is a good way to stay healthy in college, it can also help you beat college insomnia. It’s a great way to relieve stress and help tire out your body. That way, you’ll be more likely to fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, rather than tossing and turning while worrying about that upcoming research paper.
Joining a sports team or playing intramural sports is also good for making new friends and socializing — another good way to beat stress.
If team sports aren’t your thing, try going to the gym for an hour a day or taking a long walk after classes are done.
5. Avoid energy drinks.
Energy drinks are a growing problem for college students who often abuse them. The occasional energy drink when you’re cramming for exams is okay, but you shouldn’t make a habit of using energy drinks regularly.
I know they’re tempting because they are so effective — but that’s just the problem! The energy rush lasts for quite awhile and can leave you feeling jittery and anxious. Drinking too many energy drinks is a surefire way to throw off your sleep schedule and contribute to college insomnia.
If you’re looking for ways to stay more alert in class and during study sessions, there are plenty of natural alternatives that don’t include caffeine.
6. Turn off the computer.
A lot of students try to get into sleep mode by cuddling up under the covers with Netflix. But studies have shown that late night computer use can actually keep you awake longer.
Whether you’re catching up on the latest season of Orange is the New Black or perusing your social media feeds, if you want to beat college insomnia, put that computer away at least one hour before you turn in for the night.
If you’re looking for a way to de-stress or tune out after a long day of course work, try reading a book for pleasure or practicing some guided meditation.