Daylight Saving Time comes to an end this weekend. When Sunday morning rolls around, 2 a.m. will become 1 a.m. – meaning that everyone gets an extra hour of sleep. This will be welcome news in dormitories across the land. Turning the clocks back 60 minutes is a great way to catch up on rest, but unfortunately it can only be done once a year — and you have to return that extra hour in the spring. You need a better plan for catching up on sleep.
Adequate sleep is necessary to maintaining good health, but students are notoriously bad at getting enough sleep. Whether you’re pulling an all-nighter studying for your college exam, staying up late to finish your high-school project, or skimping on sleep to keep your social life in peak form, it’s easy to end up with too little zzzz time.
Sleep tips for students and parents of students
How much sleep do you need?
Find out how much sleep you need every night, and make a point to get adequate rest.
- School-aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep each night.
- Teens need a minimum of 9-10 hours of sleep each night.
- Young adults (age 18-25) need a minimum of 8-9 hours of sleep each night.
Establish a regular sleep routine
You’re never too old for a bedtime. Establish a time that you want to go to sleep each night, and wake up each morning, based on the amount of sleep you need. Of course, there might be circumstances that prevent you from getting to bed at the same time every night, but make a point to go to sleep within 1-2 hours of the same time every night.
Also, make a point to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Sleeping in for an extra hour on the occasional Saturday is fine, but keeping completely different hours on weekends can disrupt your sleep cycle.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
Read for pleasure, draw, or listen to soothing music before bed. This can help you alleviate stress, wind down, and switch gears for bedtime. A cup of herbal tea or a hot bath can be a soothing evening ritual, too. The point is to establish a habit that signals your body that it’s time to get ready for bed.
A 15-minute power nap every so often is OK. A 3-hour doze in the middle of the day isn’t. That’s likely to disrupt your sleep schedule and make it harder to get to sleep at night.
One trick to consider is the caffeine nap. Have a cup of coffee or tea mid-afternoon and take a nap immediately afterwards. When the caffeine kicks in and wakes you up, you’ll have had a ten to twenty minute nap — long enough to be restful and not long enough to keep you from sleeping at night.
2:00 or 3:00 p.m. is a good caffeine cut off time for most people, and a good nap deadline, too. Late afternoon napping, like later-afternoon coffee, can disrupt your sleep that night.
Turn off electronics and keep your phone out of reach
Don’t get caught binge-watching shows, scrolling through Facebook, or chatting with friends when what you really need is to get some rest.
The specific type of light emanating from your computer or TV has been found to interfere with sleep. Shutting off all your screens an hour before bedtime is a sleep-enhancing habit.
Be active during the day
Not only is exercise necessary for good health, but regular physical activity can also help improve your quality sleep. Just make sure you finish exercise or play well before you plan on going to sleep, as physical activity before bedtime can actually make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Avoid sugar near bedtime
Even a little sugar can make it more difficult to fall asleep and get good rest. Make a point not to consume sugary foods or beverages close to bedtime.
Limit or reduce the amount of caffeine that you consume each day, especially later in the day.
Make sure you’re in a sleep-friendly environment
You get the best sleep in dark, quiet, and comfortable settings. Don’t crash on the couch with the light on and a movie blaring in the background. Turn out the lights, turn off the noise, and sleep in your bed.
The bed should be reserved for sleeping
Relaxing, web-surfing, and hanging out should be done on furniture other than your bed. This can help strengthen the association with bed and sleep, making it easier to get adequate rest when you go to bed.
Try out some of these sleep tips, and remember to set your clocks back one hour this weekend! If you’re not getting enough sleep and you think it could be a sleep disorder, contact a sleep medicine specialist today!