5 tips to get the shut-eye you need as you begin your college career
There is much to be excited about when moving into your new “luxurious” 10×10 cube at college – your dorm room! We get it that sleep isn’t high on that list of all the fun things you want to do when you arrive at school. But remember, to maximize energy when dealing with all your new life changes, nothing will help you succeed at school like 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Yeah right, you’re thinking. Between social events, cramming for exams, extra freedoms and a night owl roommate, sleep is minimized on your priority list.
Fitting time for sleep into your schedule is difficult, but it’s actually easier to accomplish than the 20 page research paper or resisting the bottomless chocolate cake served in the dining hall. We’re sure you can manage. Here’s how you can enjoy a well-rested, academically successful college experience.
1. Have an open conversation with your roommate. 3 a.m.! You’re trying to sleep and your roommate is binging “Game of Thrones” – again! Or entertaining a special guest. Or they’re actually sleeping – and snoring earsplittingly. What do you do? You could ignore these situations for the next seven months in fear of an awkward situation while growing grumpier and sleep-deprived. Or you can tackle it head-on.
“Silence is often viewed as consent in roommate situations,” says Harlan Cohen, author of “The Naked Roommate” “It’s easy to blame your roommate, but it all starts with you.”
Cohen preaches the “uncomfortable rule,” which is a pact between roommates dictating that if anyone is uncomfortable with what the other is doing, you need to speak up within 24 to 48 hours of the problem. Once you speak up, chances are the solution will be simple. Explain, you have 9 a.m. class and could they please where headphones when Netflix binging after midnight? Create a “no hookup while I’m here” rule. Or make a pact that you’ll wake the other one up if the snoring gets out of hand.
Keeping open dialogue with your roommate is crucial. You’re moving in with a complete stranger and you need to make it work on some level. No need to become BFF’s – that would be cool if happened – but you want a foundation of privacy and a good night’s sleep.
2. Adjust your environment. Creating a Hilton suite in your shoebox of a dorm room with a twin mattress is impossible, but you can create a calm, cool, comfortable sleeping environment. If your bed is positioned next to the door where the hustle and bustle of the hallway creeps through, move it somewhere else in the room. Hang curtains around your bed to add privacy – a tapestry would also work great and add some personality to your space. Think tie-dye or geometrical patterns. Build a pillow fort, pillows absorb sound and make for a fun sleep. Fans are also an option to drown out sound and add to the coolness. The goal is to make yourself comfortable while getting your snooze on.
3. Set personal boundaries. Be your own sleep boss! Mom and dad aren’t around to question your late night excursions, video game tournaments or midnight snacks. Being your own boss comes with major responsibility. Ask yourself, “I have an early morning exam – what’s the latest I can go to bed and still ace the exam?” Figure out the best nights to go out and when to stay in and rest. Don’t be afraid to set a curfew for yourself. Your new friends might not approve but you’ll be the one on you’re A-game in History 101 the next morning.
4. Steal an afternoon nap. Remember nap time? Guess what…they’re back! Master the art of napping and give yourself a quick boost from a jam-packed academic day. The best time to power up is after lunch or early afternoon – go for a short 20-minute booster of a full sleep cycle nap of 90 minutes. Check your roommates schedule to ensure alone time. Napping late afternoon or early evening will mess with your nighttime routine. Try the NASA Nap, a 26-minute nap that will increase performance by 34% and alertness by 54%. Nap wisely.
5. Practice better sleep hygiene basics. A lot of your regular routine will be totally different in college, especially the workload and not having mom assist in rolling you out of bed for class. Even your friend groups may change.
The good news is the formula for healthy sleep hygiene will stay consistent: appropriate, consistent bedtime, less caffeine, exercise and screen time as you approach those times. Getting the routine down will go a long way to help you navigate all the changes college life will bring. When you lack sleep, you feel impatient, agitated and thoughts become blurry. The most important thing is to take care of yourself!