Sleep contributes to our overall quality of life. It plays a role in many areas of our daily functioning. Unfortunately, for some people falling asleep and staying asleep can be very hard.
Sleep can be disturbed by many factors such as stress, caffeine intake, alcohol consumption and drug use. Some of these are out of your control, but factors such as caffeine intake are not.
Sleep is important for a number of reasons. As reported by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), sleep helps us think more clearly, produces a more positive mood, reduces fatigue and restores our energy. Between classes, studying and extracurricular activities, students use up a lot of energy in a day. In order to balance all of this, many students end up reducing the amount of sleep they get, which can have a negative effect on their quality of life. Sleep loss can cause both physical and emotional issues, such as increased stress, increased risk of getting the flu or a cold, decreased athletic performance and decreased academic performance.
There are a number of things that can help improve your sleep. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that setting a bedtime routine and a morning routine can help to promote healthy sleeping habits. For example, exercising for 20 to 30 minutes per day, no later than a few hours before going to bed, can help you to fall asleep. Additionally, avoiding caffeine and drugs before bed can improve your quality of sleep. Taking some time to relax before bed can also help, since it can help the body destress from the day.
Some wonder if taking naps during the day can affect their sleep at night. The NSF suggests that a nap spanning 20 to 30 minutes can improve alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. The NSF adds that there are three kinds of napping: planned napping, emergency napping and habitual napping. Planned napping involves taking a nap when you know you will be up later than you normally would. Emergency napping is taking a nap when you get tired suddenly and cannot continue with the activity you are currently doing. Finally, habitual napping is when you take a nap at the same time each day.
Everyone needs to sleep. Most of us have done it once or twice, but staying up until 2 a.m. writing a paper or studying for a test isn’t ideal. Sleep can be hard to prioritize in your daily schedule, but it is important for your overall success!