Going to college is essentially a full-time job. It's hard work to wake up early for class, stay up late studying or doing homework, and all of that fun lecture time in the middle. Those of us who work only deal with that much more of a struggle when we add in our "real" jobs. Sleep is important, and school makes getting our full eight hours harder, so here are some (hopefully) helpful tips to maximize your sleep!
1. It's OK to scrub.
In case you don't know what it's like to "scrub," imagine yourself going to school in clothes that you either slept in/plan on sleeping in, usually wear as pajamas, or let's face it: you just don't take the time to match. For girls, this usually includes less makeup than usual, glasses instead of contacts, and/or a messy bun. Everyone likes to feel good about themselves, and dressing to impress definitely improves self-confidence, but you don't have to do that every single day! Everyone gets a cheat day, so choose yours and savor that extra beauty sleep.
2. Prioritize your homework.
Yeah, yeah, you know already. Parents and teachers will tell you this, but does it really sink in? Coming from a current college student, it's worth it. Often I'd rather just go home and hang out with friends or sleep instead of doing my homework, but in the long run, prioritizing homework will get you those extra Zs. If your homework is already done (when possible), you can go to bed when you start feeling tired instead of falling asleep over your homework.
3. Prepare your food in advance.
I always have to wake up earlier in the morning when I know I don't have anything ready to eat. If I have to cook breakfast before I leave, I don't get as much sleep. Do yourself a favor and cook/prepare your breakfast beforehand so you can sleep in longer. Protein shakes, granola bars, and fruit are great on-the-go foods to save you some precious sleep time.
4. Catch a ride.
Catching a ride to school can substantially reduce the amount of time you need to plan on getting to school in the morning, which -- you guessed it -- means more sleep! Depending on where you live, catching a ride with a friend who has a car or riding the bus can be much faster than driving yourself or walking.
5. Pick out your clothes the night before.
Picking out your clothes the night before (especially if you're a girl) can be a huge time-saver in the morning. When I wake up, it takes me so much longer to figure out what to wear than it does anything else. I'm not sure if it's just because I have a hard time waking up, or because my brain seems to work more slowly before my coffee, but I sleep in close to an additional 20 minutes when I have my clothes already picked out. It might not seem like a lot, but it's worth it to me in the morning when I want to hit snooze a few more times.
6. Make a checklist.
Checklists can really make your morning fly by if you know you need to be somewhere fast. Packing up your backpack is something you can do the night before to get things going more quickly. For the things that need to wait until morning to be packed or brought, I use a dry-erase checklist to make sure I get everything. By having a checklist by my door, I save time in the morning getting my stuff together, don't forget things as often, and stress a lot less!
7. Take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself can improve your sleep a lot more than you think. Simple things like staying nourished, taking vitamins, and drinking enough water will improve your health, and your sleep. If your body is healthy, you'll feel more rested.
8. Exercise more.
Exercising more can help improve your sleep. It might feel counterproductive in your busy schedule, but working out can actually help you get deeper, better sleep, as well as help you stay asleep. There are also a lot of other benefits of working out, such as improvement in mood and general health.
9. Invest in some earplugs.
Stay asleep longer by wearing earplugs or headphones if you live somewhere that can be noisy in the morning or late at night. Being able to tune everything out and get restful sleep is important. If I am rudely awakened by my loud neighbors in the morning, I don't get up feeling rested because I'm so frustrated that I can't go back to sleep. Stay asleep longer by tuning everything out and closing the blinds so the light doesn't wake you up in the morning, either!
10. Set a schedule.
Getting into a routine can help your overall quality of sleep. I used to have a really sporadic sleep schedule, and when I switched to going to bed at nearly the same time every night (I try, anyways), I started feeling more rested because my body knew what to expect.
11. Turn your phone off.
Shutting off your phone when you're ready for bed will help you go to sleep faster and stay asleep without interruptions. I think that everyone, at least at some point, has stayed up way past when they needed to go to sleep because of a phone distraction, whether that be a game, texting, shopping, or just browsing social media. Take away the distraction and get the sleep you deserve!
12. Take naps.
When I got older, I decided that nap time, though a thing of the past, was the best part of kindergarten. Most college students wish for nap time because we seem to always be sleep
deprived. Napping during the day in between classes or studying is a great choice if you're dragging. Sleep when you can and where you can. Just make sure you'll still be able to fall asleep at night. Your body will thank you!
Being a college student doesn't have to equal being tired all the time. Follow these tips and become a responsible sleeper!