By ANDREW HANSON
Every college student needs sleep, but getting enough can be a struggle. The remedy to sleep woes can be proper sleep hygiene.
Nurse practitioner Cindy Hayes, the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s associate director for student health, explained some of the causes and effects of sleeping disorders for students and shared tips to get a successful night’s sleep.
Q: Who can be affected by a sleeping disorder?
A: “It’s all across the board. When you get into the upper levels, you have much more demand on your time for classwork, you’re more likely to be working and you have the homework aspect of it. I’ll see students and they’ll say ‘I don’t have time to get enough sleep. I’m up until two o’clock in the morning working on this paper and I still have to get up for my morning class.’”
Q: How important is it for college students to get a good night’s sleep?
A: “It is incredibly important. It also is incredibly overlooked. The necessity — if you don’t sleep well — you don’t get the restoration. It affects your memory, your health, your ability to function and do well as a college student.”
Q: Is there any merit to getting sleep before midnight compared to after?
A: “It really depends on their class schedule. Last year, I had a lot of students whose first class wasn’t until 11 a.m. If they want to stay up until one in the morning and get up at eight or nine, that works just fine.”
Q: What are common causes for students who develop sleep issues?
A: “Part of it is they come from an environment where someone told them to go to bed at a decent time. You’ve got that shift where you’re responsible for that whole daily routine. It’s a new experience; there is so much to do. Students want to stay up late and hang out and talk and get to know their roommates and friends. Another factor is having a roommate. You’re in a strange place with sometimes a person you don’t know very well. Is your room too loud? Is it too hot or cold? Is it too noisy?”
Sleep Hygiene Tips
– Avoid screen time on your phone or tablet before bed.
– Establish a regular wake-up time and bedtime.
– Avoid napping if possible. If a nap is necessary, limit it to 45 minutes, preferably between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
– Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it disrupts your natural sleep cycle and should not be used to induce sleep.
– Consuming drinks with caffeine after lunch can affect sleep as it takes at least eight hours to metabolize.