Sleeping for students is as crucial as training for an athlete-have less of it and you won’t be on your A-game. Plus, we all know that vicious cycle that comes with the lack of sleep-coffee addiction. No one wants to get caught up in that black hole.
Insomnia is known to be extremely prevalent on college campuses because of the insane workload so many students are bearing. It’s no wonder stores like “Insomnia Cookies” are scoring big with their nighttime sweet-tooth fulfilling service. So what’s giving us that lack of sleep? Most nights it’s the long problem sets and 10 page essays that kill our chances at quality shut-eye. But what makes us stay up at night, even when we’re all ready to go to bed?
For many, it might be the amount of time spent on an electronic device. Researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered a link between electronic usage and insomnia. People who looked at their phones before going to bed or spent time on the computer (probably finishing up an essay before 11:59 PM) were more likely to have trouble falling asleep. If you really need to use the computer right before you fall asleep, which, let’s be real, most of us do, I’ve recently discovered “computer glasses” which block out white light. Yup, this is a thing. If you use them regularly, then not only will your eyes will be less strained, but you’ll also find it easier to fall asleep when it’s bedtime.
There’s very little surprise that stress, which is literally all of us all the time, may also be a culprit. Extreme amounts of stress keep you up thinking at night when you should be winding down. Basically, those Chem problem sets that are due at 10am sharp and that Psych prelim you’re worried about are probably the reasons why you can’t fall asleep. Thanks, Cornell. We all know that worrying about work and prelims is inevitable, so the solution to this is to find something soothing to do right before bed, like listening to soft music or reading. Better yet, make sure to do your textbook readings as the last thing you do before you go to bed- you’ll fall asleep faster while being ultra-productive.
What’s even less surprising than stress is that coffee consumption majorly contributes to insomnia. Everyone knows not to drink caffeine before heading to bed, but the pros actually say that any coffee consumption that occurs less than 8 hours before the intended time of sleep can give you a rough time. That afternoon coffee boost you decided to go for is keeping you up way longer than the initial rush. In other words, don’t grab that Pumpkin Spice Latte in the afternoon if you don’t have to, or at least have a less caffeinated drink so it wears off before you want to fall asleep.
A less obvious cause of insomnia is exercise. While you may think an evening workout is great after a long day of studying, it may actually be keeping you up. Any exercise you do increases your energy, so if you’re hitting the gym too close to bedtime, don’t be surprised if you find yourself wide awake into the wee hours of the morning. In other words, exercise, but not within 3 hours of falling asleep.
If you constantly find yourself counting sheep, it may be that your insomnia is due to one of the reasons above. Many health websites cite that it could be extremely useful to keep a sleep log if insomnia persists. Everyone sleeps differently, so it is important to pinpoint your insomnia to your individual needs and habits. If you are doing one of the above, change your habits and see what happens! You may have some sweet dreams (and prelims) tonight after all.