Zzzzzz Time: Sleep Does More Than Bring You Sweet Dreams

Proper sleep habits in college improve health and cognitive performance

Developing proper sleep habits in college is vital to your health and performance. Visit CollegeView.com for tips on avoiding sleep deprivation.There’s no getting around it—sleep matters.

To be your best—academically, socially, athletically, physically—you must sleep for at least eight hours a night. Some say that the last two hours of the night’s sleep are the most important, so continually restricting yourself to six hours or less will take its toll.

Find helpful tips below on how to avoid student sleep deprivation.

Avoid the College All-Nighter for Better Health

The all-nighter is almost a cliché, and many students will stay up through the night either studying or socializing. But keep in mind that sleep deprivation has been proven to impair mental function—and weaken the immune system. According to the National Sleep Foundation, although we think of sleep as a time of rest, research is revealing that sleep is a dynamic activity during which many processes vital to health and well-being take place. New evidence shows that sleep is essential to helping maintain mood, memory, and cognitive performance.

Take Charge of Your Sleep Habits

Going away to college may be the first time you’ll be in charge of your sleep habits. Mom isn’t there to urge you to bed, nor is she there as your back-up alarm. With this freedom comes the temptation to slide into a bad habit of staying up late, oversleeping and missing class, and then taking a long afternoon nap—which prevents you from going to sleep at a reasonable time that night as well.

Sticking to a sleep schedule makes sense, and gives you more control of your life. Experts advise trying to go to bed around the same time each night and, just as importantly, waking up at about the same time every morning. Even on weekends, try not to deviate too much from your sleep schedule. Sure, most college students stay up later on Friday and Saturday nights, but don’t mess up your pattern so drastically that you can’t go to sleep at your normal time on Sunday night.

Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

If you have trouble sleeping, see if soft sheets and a cushy mattress topper help. Some students use a white-noise machine to block out sounds of the residence hall. If your roommate has different sleep times than you, have a friendly discussion about your needs and their needs and how you can help one another.

Relying on pills to stay awake or to fall asleep is dangerous. “Students who use caffeine-type pills often experience stomach upset and aren’t alert for the very test they were studying for,” points out Sandra Combs, RN, director of the health center at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. “It’s much smarter to get the sleep you need.”


This article was written by Jane Schreier Jones

Jane Schreier Jones is a freelance writer whose work includes hundreds of articles in the field of education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/journalism from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.


  1. Karen Hemstreet

    Getting to sleep isn’t as much the problem as getting up in a timely manner in the morning. Any suggestions on how you can make that happen more regularly?

  2. Meg Swenson

    For a morning routine, I’d suggest, basically the same thing as the article says. Create a routine and stick too it. Get up at a designating time (that gives you plenty of time to do what you need to in the morning), shower, eat, get what you need ready for the day, and help clean if need be. Focus on what you need to get done for the day and use the morning to plan appropriately.

  3. Ziniya

    How closely are sleep and migraine attacks related? And does consuming alcohol on a frequent basis have any major role with sleeping habbits?

  4. Jered

    I found this very helpful! For me, I find it hard to go to sleep at a “regular” time. I need to wake up at at least 6 a.m. but I have to pick up my roommate from work almost every night from either 11 p.m. or 2 a.m…. It is really exhauhsting, we share a car though and have no other option at the moment. Does anyone have any helpful ideas as to how I can work around this and get more sleep. I have a pretty long day. Sleep has become more of a luxury nowadays.. .

  5. Erik

    This helped nothing. Nothing! We already know these facts! We already know exactly how necessary sleep is. Why do you think we came here? To find out how to get more of it! Between the sheer amount of schoolwork and all other daily activities, eight hours has become a distant shadow of a dream (haha, dream, pun absolutely intended, not back spacing that). I suggest that you change the subtitle about tips. These ‘tips’ weren’t helpful at all about minimizing workload and therefore gaining more time for some shut-eye. The article was more about the obvious importance of this process and why one needs it rather than how one can attain more of it.

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