What’s the Best Sleep Schedule?
I have a confession to make: I am a morning person. So yes, that means a 10 p.m. bedtime and 6 a.m. alarm.
Coming into college I was fully prepared to be that college student who stayed up until 3 a.m. and wake up at 11 a.m. Freshman year, I was that student. I remember waking up for my 8 a.m.s and being exhausted. I would go straight back to bed after class. It took some time for me to realize that a sleep schedule like that did not work for me!
As sophomore year came upon me I was still staying up until around midnight or so. However, I started to realize that the effort and motivation that went into my homework in the later hours of the evening declined as every hour passed. I started to wake up on my days off and do homework in the morning, creating a different routine. It was not until my full-time job this summer (involving a 7 a.m. wake up every day) did I realize that the morning was the time for me.
So now, as a junior, I have finally realized the sleep schedule that works best for my academic schedule as well. If that means going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 6 or so, so be it!
How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need?
I understand that I may be the outlier on the typical college sleep schedule, but it is really important to find a schedule that works for you, no matter how late your friends and roommates stay up. That means sticking to a solid 6-8 hours a night and having a relatively consistent bedtime every night. And yes, that means during the weekends too!
Balancing a proper sleep schedule may seem like just another thing to check off your to-do list, but sleep is a priority. I know from personal experience that stressing about the amount of sleep I get can often stop me from sleeping soundly.
I spoke to Kathleen Grace-Bishop at Health Services and asked for a few guidelines to keep my sleep schedule consistent:
- It’s best to do so in only 20-30 increments (too much sleep will affect your ability to fall asleep later)
- Even if you do not fall asleep during those 20-30 minutes, just resting your eyes and mind will revive you for the rest of the day
- Make sure you take your nap at least 8 hours before you intend to go to bed
- Caffeine affects us all differently, so it is up to you to decide how much you need
- Stop drinking caffeine by at least mid-afternoon, drinking it any later may impact your sleep later in the evening
Pre- sleep routine
- Make sure you shut off your electronics an hour before you go to bed
- Create a routine so your body knows that it is time to go to sleep, that may include showering, reading or meditating
- Don’t exercise two hours before you go to bed
If you are interested in any other aspects of sleep, Health Services has free sleep kits you can pick up and you can learn about giving your sleep routine a makeover with plenty of useful information they have on their website.