Many students do not sleep well. Sometimes sleep problems are caused by factors outside out direct control, such as loud roommates, a medical condition, or living near a train track. More often than not, however, a student’s sleeping problem is caused by poor “sleep hygiene”, or poor choices about sleep that are within our control to alter.
Here is a list of practices conducive to good sleep, adapted from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2002):
- Try to sleep only when you are drowsy.
- If you are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity elsewhere. Do not permit yourself to fall asleep outside the bedroom. Return to bed when – and only when – you are sleepy. Repeat this process of often as necessary throughout the night
- Maintain a regular arise time, even on days off work and on weekends.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.
- Avoid napping during the daytime. If daytime sleepiness becomes overwhelming, limit nap time to a single nap of less than one hour, no later than 3 pm.
- Distract your mind. Lying in bed unable to sleep and frustrated needs to be avoided. Try reading or watching a videotape or listening to books on tape. It may be necessary to go into another room to do these.
- Avoid caffeine within four to six hours of bedtime.
- Avoid the use of nicotine close to bedtime or during the night.
- Do not drink alcoholic beverages within four to six hours of bedtime.
- While a light snack before bedtime can help promote sound sleep, avoid large meals.
- Avoid strenuous exercise within six hours of bedtime.
- Minimize light, noise, and extremes in temperature in the bedroom.
- Please call the Counseling Center if you need help improving your sleep.