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Sleep plays a key role in your health, ability to focus, and mood. But has a busy college student, it's often the first thing that gets sacrificed when you have more tasks than you do time. For some, lack of sleep becomes something to brag about-as if not getting enough sleep somehow means they are more dedicated students who deserve success. But being rested is key to your success as a student.

Understanding the importance of sleep 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough sleep, which is also referred to as sleep deprivation, can negatively impact your ability to concentrate, remember, and problem solve. When you're sleeping, your brain consolidates your memories of the day and categorizes them so that you can access that information later. When you don't sleep, your brain doesn't have a change to do that and it's harder for your brain to recall and retain information. Also, sleep deprivation impacts your alertness. One study showed that participants who were sleep deprived could be as alert as someone with a blood alcohol level of .1, which is considered too impaired to drive a vehicle in all 50 states. 

Another reason sleep is essential is that it helps us to regulate our emotions. The ability to cope with daily problems and get along with others is impacted when you don't sleep enough. It's harder to deal with everyday stresses and respond appropriately when you are sleep deprived. There is also a link between sleep deprivation and depression, individuals who are sleep deprived are five times more likely to be depressed as those who are getting enough rest. 

Over time, sleep deprivation can cause physical problems as well, for example sleep deprivation can increase the risk of obsesity and heart disease.

Improving your sleep hygiene 

Sleep hygiene is understood as a variety of different practices and habits that together can have a big impact on nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. 

Below are scientifically based bedtime practices and habits that have been shown positively impact your sleep: 

  • Sleep and wake up at a consistent time (ideally even on weekends) 
  • Establish a pre-bedtime routine and relax before bed 
  • Control your room temperature-62-70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal 
  • Avoid phones and other screens at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Avoid large meals before sleeping 
  • Keep any daytime naps below 20 minutes 
  • Only use your bed for sleep or for intimacy 
  • Limit caffeine intake to morning and limit any alcohol use 
  • Get daily adequate movement/exercise   

Getting Support 

Not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much can be disruptive to your daily functioning. If you feel this is the case, consider scheduling an appointment at the Counseling Center so you can better understand your sleep habits/patterns and learn further healthy sleep hygiene skills. 

Additional Resources