Back-to-School Sleep Tips for Students

Whether going to college for the first time or getting back into gear for senior year, sleep proves one of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of being successful. Knowing the basics of sleep hygiene and being well-prepared can help ensure you or your student stay healthy and happy while in school.

Back to school tips from Amerisleep

Why Sleep?

With so much else to do between classes, working, studying, and socializing, getting rest is often last on the to-do list for students. But, it is impossible to underestimate the importance of sleep on so many levels, from health, fitness and mood to memory recall and grades. Here are just a few of the reasons students should strive to get 7-9 hours of quality rest in every single night:

Learning

When the brain is overworked, focus, attention, perception, and decision making can all be impaired. Sleep deprivation has been shown to affect logical reasoning and complex thought, both important for successful students.

More sleep will help with learning, focus, and attention

Memory

A well-rested brain is more receptive to new information, and memories are believed to be consolidated and stored during sleep. Researchers have found that sleep deprivation can affect the memorization of new information and motor skills.

More sleep will keep the brain receptive to new information

Grades

Studies of undergraduates at the University of Minnesota and another published in the College Student Journal showed positive correlations with the amount of sleep reported and grades3. Students who slept the most had better grades, while higher numbers of days per week with less than 5 hours of sleep correlated with lower grades2.

More sleep will lead to good grades

Health

Sleep plays a critical role in the body’s hormones and repair functions. Numerous studies have researched the impacts of sleep on health and disease, which have shown links between a lack of sleep and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and mood disorders, impaired immune function, and increased mortality. A lack of sleep can also contribute to skin aging and hinder fitness goals.

More sleep will keep lead to better health

Safety

Lacking sleep, the brain is less effective at planning and decision making which can be dangerous. A sleep deprived person can be more prone to all sorts of accidents as a result of delayed reaction and inattention. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 1 in 6 car crashes per year are directly attributable to a lack of sleep, while the Institute of Medicine estimates the number as high as 1 million crashes.

More sleep can help with effective planning and decision making

How to Sleep Well During College

Your health, learning experiences and performance will stick with you long after college is over, highlighting the importance of getting good, quality sleep during these important years. Here are a few tips for sleeping well while in college.

Come Prepared

When getting your dorm or living space ready, think not only of daytime functions but sleep as well. You will spend about 1/3 of college in bed, and being comfortable plays a big role in getting quality rest necessary for learning and health. If you are staying in a dorm, note that most come with fairly cheap and often uncomfortable mattresses. You may want to bring your own mattress if allowed or least a mattress topper to stay comfy. Dark, quiet rooms prove ideal for sleep, so consider blackout drapes or an eye mask as well as headphones or earplugs so you won’t be be bothered by roommates and neighbors.

Prepare yourself for perfect sleep with this checklist

Stick to a Schedule

Developing a schedule or time-management system is important for busy students, and can also be a good way to ensure you get enough sleep in. Give yourself plenty of time to study and do assignments so you don’t have to stress and cram. And, the more consistent your wake-sleep schedule, the easier it will be to get up in the morning for those early classes.

Having a schedule will ensure you get proper sleep

Track Your Sleep

The best way to see how much sleep you’re getting and if you need to make changes is to keep track and listen to your body. There are numerous free apps for Android and Apple devices that allow users to log sleep as well as monitor for any disturbances and wake you up at ideal sleep cycle stages.

Track your sleep to determine if you are getting enough

Get Exercise

Consistent exercise is a good way to improve your sleep schedule and keep insomnia (and those sneaky pizza pounds) at bay. Carving out at least 30 minutes a day 4-5 days a week for some gym time, fitness class or walk should be a must for every student. You can even make it social by working out with friends, or catch up on lectures and reading.

More exercise will improve your sleep schedule

Don't Compromise Sleep

Running a sleep deficit is bad for your health, and studies show you can’t just catch up for a week of missed rest on Sunday. Even missing 2 hours a night creates a deficit of 14 hours per week! While all-nighters are bound to happen in college, keep them to a minimum and make sure you get 7-8 hours daily. Naps are better than nothing, but many sleep professionals recommend keeping them under 30 minutes so as not to through of your body’s circadian rhythm. Don’t feel pressured to go out when you are tired or have to wake up early, or plan ahead of time to call it a night early.

Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to practices and behaviors most likely to contribute to quality sleep. Here are the top tips for improving sleep from Harvard’s Healthy Sleep website1:

  • Reduce sound and noise disturbances in the environment.
  • Have a pre-sleep routine to prepare your mind for bed.
  • Do get natural sunlight each day.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine for several hours before bed.
  • Don’t eat heavy foods or drink a lot of liquids close to bedtime.
  • If you take a nap, do it before 5pm.
  • Plan to conclude your workout 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Don’t toss around in bed or watch the clock if you can’t sleep; get up and read until tired.
  • Have a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends; practice good sleep habits.

Tips for Choosing a Mattress or Topper

Choosing the right mattress can make all the difference between comfortable sleep and restless nights. Learn how your sleep position and needs can help you choose the best option.

How Long Do You Plan on Using the Bed?

For dorm students who only plan on staying 1-2 years, a mattress topper might make the most sense. Toppers are most effective when the underlying mattress is supportive and in good shape but too firm. When you have your own apartment or plan to use the bed for more than 2 years, a new quality mattress will yield the best long-term value and comfort.

A memory foam topper will last 1-2 years, while a memory foam mattress with last 10+ years

What is Your Sleep Style?

Your sleep position and body type can influence how comfortable a mattress feels. Back sleepers typically do best with medium-firm mattresses and stomach sleepers with firm beds since these positions require support with minimal contouring. A side sleeper may prefer a medium to plush mattress that can contour to hips and shoulders. Learn more about mattresses and sleep positions.

Amerisleep sleep style chart

What About Mattress Types?

The primary mattress types are innerspring, memory foam, latex foam, air, and water. Among all of these types, memory foam and latex tend to earn the best ratings and reviews while innersprings earn the lowest. Compared to spring beds, quality foam mattresses excel at preventing pain and pressure points and providing long-lasting comfort. When picking out a new bed, don’t forget to thoroughly research your options, compare value and check reviews.

Primary mattress types are innerspring, memory foam, latex foam, air, and water beds

Sleep Better with Amerisleep

Amerisleep offers several advantages for students and all sleepers. Our Bio-Pur™ plant-based memory foam provides a more affordable and eco-friendly alternative to conventional memory foam products, and our customers give us some of the best reviews in the industry. Our mattresses are certified to be free of hazardous chemicals like CFCs, PBDEs and formaldehyde so you can breathe easy. And, our revolutionary Bio-Pur™ memory foam proves more breathable and more responsive than other leading brands of traditional and gel memory foam to keep you cool and comfortable.

Prepare yourself for perfect sleep with this checklist

Resources:

1Harvard Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/

2Kelly, W.E., Kelly, K. E., and Clanton, R.C. (2001). The Relationship Between Sleep Length And Grade-Point Average Among College Students. College Student Journal, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p84. http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/4397214/relationship-between-sleep-length-grade-point-average-among-college-students

3Lowry, M., Dean, K. and Manders, K. (2010). The Link Between Sleep Quantity and Academic Performance for the College Student. University of Minnesota Undergraduate Journal of Psychology. http://www.psych.umn.edu/sentience/files/Lowry_2010.pdf

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