Let's face it. Most of us get few hours of sleep every night, and our overall sleep quality is poor. In a study about sleep quality of college students, 64.8% of the students presented poor sleep quality. That's about two-thirds! Such poor sleep quality is associated with lower levels of academic success, worse adaptation to academic demands, worse opinion about one's sleeping place, more negative physical and psychological symptoms, learning problems, day-to-day and academic organizational problems, and poorer relationships with friends and intimate relationships.
We all know how great of a feeling it is to wake up after a nice, relaxing night's sleep. We all know how important it is to get the right amount of sleep, and although the right amount of sleep depends on the person, most of us on the normal distribution curve need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
As much as we want to sleep well, us college students are always tempted to live life to the fullest and extend each waking day beyond its limit. And who could blame us? This is the time of our lives that we should have fun, meet new people, celebrate life, and enjoy our youth.
So let's have fun, celebrate life, and enjoy our youth, all while having a great night's sleep. And let's do it with a great night's sleep. According to Shawn Stevenson, author of "Sleep Smarter," we only need to do TWO simple things in order to increase our quality of sleep. These two things do not require us changing our entire lives, but doing so can drastically improve the quality of our lives.
1. Morning exercise, around 7 a.m.
Morning exercisers, compared with afternoon and evening exercisers, spent the most time in the deepest stages of sleep, producing more human growth hormones, which are important for building and healing our body, more efficient sleep cycles, sleeping longer, and a greater drop in blood pressure throughout the night, which means less stress, one of the most ferocious killers in the Western world.
What kind of exercise does Shawn Stevenson recommend? Shawn recommends just five minutes of high-intensity interval training. 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Also jumping on a trampoline, going on a power-walk, or a four-minute Tabata session.
2. Giving ourselves a screen curfew of thirty minutes at night
Only thirty minutes. We are addicted to our devices. Literally. Share a post, get likes, and dopamine dances in your brain, making us feel so good. Every hour we are on our electronic devices at night suppresses melatonin for about thirty minutes, which leads to poor, inefficient sleep cycles. So, instead of being on our phones and falling into an internet black-hole, Shawn recommends switching it with something of greater value: connecting with people. Friends, roommates, family, lovers.
If, for some reason, you don't have friends, roommates, family, or lovers, download f.lux, which red-shifts the glow of your screen. I use this free software, and I think it's awesome.
It is never too late to implement healthy habits into our lives. If you wake up groggy, and have low energy throughout the day, today is the day you implement Shawn Stevenson's two easy tips into your lives for an improved quality of sleep and quality of life. Five-minutes of high-intensity exercise in the morning, and a nighttime screen curfew. Easy tasks for us busy college students. Good night, and sweet dreams.