Sleep Your Way to Success

There’s no way around it, you need to sleep more. School is stressful and busy. There are many more and different distractions today than when I went to school. Students today suffer from what is called FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Social media doesn’t help. Everyone posts how great their lives are, what activities and successes they achieve. Few people brag about a good nights rest when they do absolutely nothing. It’s time to shut off your phones, turn off the computer, and rest. It’s time to invest in sleep. If you want to concentrate in class and while studying, and you want great grades, it’s time to sleep.

A good night’s rest, as well as well planned naps, starts with the weekly schedule I wrote about above. We need to train your “biological clock.” You need to eat and go to bed the same time every day. You need a solid breakfast to start the day and avoid late night snacking. Drunk eating is a classic no no. I remember many nights when out drinking my friends and I binged on tasty but greasy restaurant foods. If you are going to eat late, you must eat healthy and small portions.

Another sorely needed food adjustment is caffeine. You can still drink coffee, and in the morning I look forward to a cup of Joe. You can start by reducing the size of the cup of coffee but definitely limit the consumption later in the day. “Power naps” are helpful to overcome the symptoms of sleep deprivation but keep the time to 30 minutes or less. You can also try a “Super Power Nap” in emergencies. A Super Power Nap involves wolfing a cup of coffee first and then taking a 20 minute nap. If you must stay awake and a normal nap isn’t helping, Super Power Naps are the way to go. What I hope for you is with enough sleep on a daily basis you can cut out the naps. You will also learn your body’s limits with naps. I know that if I take a nap before 4pm on a given day I will still be able to sleep that night. What you must not start doing is abusing stimulants. Yes, I am well aware some students live on Adderall, or some equivalent. Don’t do it. It’s going to bring you down, eventually, a major crash. Exercise, as I have discussed above, will help keep you awake as well as relieve stress. Daily exercise or at least 3 times per week will help you sleep at night. Try to exercise in the first part of the day rather than at night, but it depends on what your body prefers.

As with the study environment, the sleep environment should be conducive to sleep. You should never study on your bed because you want your mind trained to sleep there. Study at a desk; sleep on your bed. Mixing the two confuses both the study and sleep centers of the brain. If you study on your bed you might get sleepy. If you study on your bed you might have problems sleeping on it. Keep them separate. Dorm rooms are sometimes not a great place to study so by all means look for a good spot on campus. Libraries have both good and bad places to study. Oddly enough, libraries also have good places to sleep. If you must use the library, find a spot where no friends will find you, and make sure you shut off your phone, I mean OFF, not merely on silent. Make your dorm room a place to sleep at night. Remove light when you sleep. Turn the computer off and create a barrier from your roommate’s lights. Screen off your sleep area. I would also be careful what colors are in the room. Strong colors like red, yellow, or orange are great for studying. Make sure you can’t see them when you go to sleep. Turn off the lights!

A pre-sleep routine helps some students get to sleep. You might try reading a book (not your textbook), listening to relaxing music, a warm bath or shower, or drinking chamomile tea. You can also try meditation. If you read my study skills ebook you will know this is the time to go over your notes for the day in your mind. I would mentally flip through my binders, since I memorized them! In a few minutes, you should fall asleep.

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