The drones of my alarm which burst through my sweet dreams are seriously a buzz kill. Why do 9am lectures even exist? For many of us students, our lives consist of trotting in from a nightclub in the early hours of the morning, with lots of us maintaining the notion that we will still make it to our 9am Chemistry lab.
But, cue the snooze button. Every day the sleep deprived, lazy angel on my shoulder fills my head with thoughts like “Who needs a degree anyways? You can totally miss this lecture; your attendance is only worth 30%.” The idea of hitting my feet off the icy floor in my bedroom sends a shiver up my spine as I lie in my cocoon of warm fluffiness, surrounded by several teddy bears and a hot water bottle that is still luke warm from the night before.
I think that it is fair to say that many of you can relate to me on this. In fact, a study by two members of the Department of Neurology in the University of Michigan found that 7 out of 10 of my fellow college peers don’t get enough sleep.
I did some internet digging, and found an article by the National Sleep Foundation that recommends young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. So, if you’re like me, and achieving that amount of sleep seems more like a dream than a reality, you have come to the right place.
I broadened my research, soon realising that ‘SpunOut.ie’, a youth information page, is a nifty website for all Irish young people. It gave me a brilliant insight into how I can make my quality of sleep ‘snooze-tastic’. I tested some of these methods for you and discovered that a lot of this advice is really useful, and could ultimately could help us all get higher attendance marks at our 9ams. Here are some of the things ‘SpunOut’ taught me, which I think can help you too.
1. We need to be more careful of caffeine– Coffee and ‘Monster’ Energy drinks appear to go hand in hand with college students, and are arguably the easiest way to keep yourself awake for a cramming session. However, caffeine and sleep aren’t friends. Caffeine stays in your body for up to 8 hours, and we are actually meant to be having our last caffeinated beverage at 2pm. (insert shocked gasp here.) However, for me this wasn’t practical. I’m a faithful ‘Barry’s tea’ girl, and I cannot envision depriving myself of tea for that long. Instead, I switched to decaf tea in the late afternoon and evening, and I can confirm that I found it a bit easier to drift off.
2. Create a sleep schedule that works for you and STICK to it– Remember when your family would force you out of the sitting room at ‘bedtime’ when you were a child, and you would stomp up the stairs in a state of frustration? Apparently, that’s actually the way adulthood should work too. But, this time you can pick your bedtime. Going to bed at the same time every night can be so beneficial for your sleep. I can vouch for this, because one of the amazing benefits of watching a television series like “Love Island” means that it is on at the same time every single night. I have started planning my night routine around when the show begins and ends, meaning by the end of the show, I am climbing into my bed, ready for some solid sleep.
3. Manage your naps– I can relate to the amazingness of naps. I would argue that there are fewer greater pleasures in life than that post- lecture ‘forty winks’. But, the more sleep you get during the day hinders how tired you will be at night. If you want to take naps, try to sleep for less than 20 minutes, or just not at all. If you are me, I still grab the quota of 20 minutes regularly, and it has made sleeping a lot easier at night time.
4. Exercise- A word I love to hate. But, for anyone else that is prone to gym-anxiety, the good news is exercise can take place anywhere! Try going for a walk in the sea air, or join a recreational sports team. I can confirm that a long walk to Salthill and back really took it out of me, and by night-time I was ready for my bed.
All of these tips were brilliant, but we are not living in perfect world. So this final tip is from me, who is also a mere human.
5. Don’t panic if you’re sleep schedule isn’t perfect- Trust me, sometimes life gets in the way. But don’t let that discourage you.
I am not a pro-sleeper yet, and I don’t know if I ever will be. As I write this in my jittery caffeine- filled state following last night’s Netflix binge, I have many regrets. But these regrets have empowered me to tackle my sleep routine again tonight. My nana always stressed the importance of keeping your chin up. For me, persevering and keeping my chin up is my life motto, because we are allowed to make mistakes.
Keep living a student life, and don’t forget, things didn’t turn out too badly for Sleeping Beauty. After all, she married a prince and ended up living happily ever after.