Did you know that about 70% of students are not getting enough sleep to meet our national sleep guidelines? With increased pressures and stress put on our students, it's no wonder they aren't getting the restorative sleep they need! Sleep deprivation reduces cognitive abilities and harms performance through decreased attention, impaired memory, slow processing and reduced creativity. In this week's episode, Shea covers her top 5 sleep hacks for students, and why skipping the late night study cram and heading to bed will be better than an all-nigher every time!
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Keen to learn more but haven't had the chance to listen? Read the podcast below!
It’s been a few years since my time at school or university, but I still remember the stress that would come with assignments and exams, and the many sleepless nights up late studying. It’s already been a strange, and late, start to the 2022 school year, with schools only just going back as universities prepare to start the semester. Living and studying amidst the pandemic, our students have had a lot of extra stress to manage over the past 2 years.
A recent study of the sleep patterns of Australian students has found that up to 70% of students are not getting enough sleep to meet our national sleep guidelines.
Sleep deprivation reduces cognitive abilities and harms performance through decreased attention, impaired memory, slow processing and reduced creativity. Despite popular belief, you may be better off skipping the late night study cram and just heading to bed.
Today, I’m talking about my top sleep hacks for students! Whether you’re a parent looking to help your student sleep better, or studying yourself, I’m going to give you my top tips to support sleep while hitting the books.
There are 3 main causes for sleep deprivation in students: Biological changes, social demands, and academic obligations and stressors. While we can’t make any of these go away, we can aim to lessen their effects on our sleep by implementing these 5 simple tips.
- Set a sleep schedule: This is something I talk about all the time, but is one of the easiest ways to create better healthy sleep habits! Have a look at your daily schedule and the recommended sleep duration for your age group. Set yourself a realistic sleep and wake time, and don’t allow other activities (even studying), to cut into your scheduled time for sleep. As humans, we crave consistency and regularity and your body will get used to the schedule you set making it easier to get up in the mornings.
- Don’t hit snooze: A lot of people are big fans of the snooze button, and sometimes set their alarm much earlier than required so they can hit the snooze button a certain number of times before actually getting out of bed. My advice: set your alarm for the latest possible time to wake up (or if you can’t help yourself, for 1 round of snoozing). Short snoozing times don’t allow us to fall back into a deep sleep meaning that we are wasting good, quality sleep time by hitting that snooze button. We are better off prolonging our sleep, enjoying the longer duration, and waking up when we actually need to.
- Limit caffeine intake in the afternoons: We’ve all been at the point where we can’t get through the day without a coffee. We treat it like a lifeline! So whether it be coffee or an energy drink helping you get through the day, try to keep in mind that you shouldn’t be drinking it after 2pm. Caffeine can linger in your veins for hours after consumption, and delay your sleep cycle. The best way to drink your coffee is 3 hours after waking, and no later than 2pm in the afternoon. We recommend trying to have your daily coffee at 10am for minimal sleep disruptions.
- Practice stress-relieving activities: Everyone sleeps worse during periods of stress. It is completely normal to experience sleep disruptions when your anxieties are heightened. It’s so important to make sure you’re taking time out of your day and before bed to do something you find relaxing. Whether this be reading (for pleasure), stretching, exercising, listening to your favourite podcast or taking a long, hot bath, it’s so important to do something for your mental health everyday. Anxiety is one of the most common causes of insomnia, so practicing self-care is never a bad idea or a waste of time - no matter how busy you are!
- Avoid all nighters: We’ve saved the best until last! As a sleep expert, I am very against pulling an all-nighter for anything - and study is no exception. We’ve all heard the saying ‘due today, do today’ but in fact, this shouldn’t ever be the case. Putting off your study will increase your anxiety, meaning quality sleep will be harder to achieve. But your all-nighter will also be harmful to your cognitive function, memory and mood - so won’t be helping anyone, especially you! Avoid the urge to stay up all night studying, and instead opt for a good night’s sleep. If you’re feeling under-prepared (or in a bind), try getting up earlier in the morning so you can avoid the side effects of sleep deprivation hitting you in full force on your big day!
Want more sleep tips? Head to The Journal at thegoodnightco.com for your complete guide to sleeping well and being well.