What is 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.
Why does this matter?
Although staying up late studying or staying out with friends can certainly be part of the college experience for some students, it’s also the case that prioritizing a quality restful night of sleep can have a very positive impact on your college experience. This is because obtaining healthy sleep has been proven to aid in both physical and mental health, as well as improve productivity and reports of overall quality of life.
But it’s one thing to simply hope for or expect a good night’s sleep, and it’s another to have scientifically based bedtime practices and habits that have been shown to positively relate to a more restful night’s sleep.
How can I improve my sleep hygiene?
One of the most important sleep hygiene practices is to spend an appropriate amount of time asleep in bed, not too little or too excessive. Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. However, for college students between 7-9 hours per night is generally considered adequate. However, beyond just the amount of hours of sleep, there are a variety of sleep hygiene practices that can impact the quality of sleep. Below are a number of the most prominent ones:
- Sleep and wake up at a consistent time (ideally even on weekends).
- Avoid phones and other electronic screens at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Daily adequate movement/exercise.
- Keep any daytime naps below 20 minutes.
- Avoid large meals before sleeping.
- Only use your bed for sleep or for intimacy.
- Avoid excessive light throughout the night and early morning (consider using black out screens or curtains over the windows).
- Limit caffeine intake to the morning.
- Room temperature should be cool (between roughly 62-70 degrees Fahrenheit).
But what about roommates?
Sometimes even with implementing all of the above tips a good night’s sleep can escape us because of living with a roommate who may have different patterns than us or not be following any of the above tips. The good news is that there are certain practices that can cut down on roommate distractions. If noise of a roommate walking around or typing on a computer is a concern, consider using a white noise machine or white noise sound app, or turning on a box fan. These white noises can actually aid in sleep as they can actually drown out other sounds or disturbances. You can also consider trying ear plugs. If light is a problem, you can try using using a sleep eye mask. If these practices still aren’t working due to a roommate’s disruptions, it could be important initiating a conversation about it. For roommates who are not receptive, if your sleep is being significantly disrupted it could be a good option to reach out to your RA for support, advice, and next steps/suggestions.
Beyond the above mentioned hygiene tips, there are many smartphone apps to assist with sleep hygiene and even nighttime sleep quality tracking:
Looking for even more information about sleep hygiene? There are lots of useful articles and videos on the benefits of sleep and how to improve sleep hygiene. Below are several links if you’re interested in learning more:
Still struggling with sleep? Connect with us at CAPS to explore further. Information for making an appointment or connecting with us during Drop-In Hours can be found on our homepage.