Tips for Parents
Overtired & Overwhelmed
The National Sleep Foundation says that most adults 18 and older need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Yet, college students don't always make this a priority — and it impacts them. They get overtired, which can lead to stress and a sense of being overwhelmed.
Being overtired can cause:
- Higher susceptibility to illness
- Lack of energy
- Motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty retaining new information
Lack of adequate sleep often causes their grades to drop — sometimes dramatically. And, yes, staying up late to study and then getting up early in the morning to do it again are counter-effective strategies. What about the practice of sleep-deprived all-nighters? That creates a sleep debt that can be tough to overcome.
Getting Quality Sleep
So, the experts suggest a few simple tactics to help increase quality sleep:
- Get to bed around the same time each night so the body gets used to a regular sleeping schedule.
- Don't make the bed a key study space because then it'll be associated with stressful activity.
- Steer clear of alcohol before bed, as it can cause the drinker to wake up several times during the night, which can be just as detrimental as only getting a few hours in the first place.
- Avoid watching the clock.
- Establish a relaxing routine to do about a half hour before bed, like taking a shower, reading or listening to music, plus turn off the TV and computer ahead of time, too.
- Consider using "white noise" — like a fan — to help fall asleep.
- Try to make the bed as comfortable as possible.
- Finish eating about two hours before bed so the body won't be working on digestion.
- Avoid exercise right before bed, since a dropping body temperature is what the brain associates with sleep.
By trying to get her sleeping patterns under control, your student will be doing herself the ultimate favor. Many students are unaware that their sleep deprivation can cause them serious problems — they may be so used to being consistently sleepy that they don't realize their lack of sleep is unhealthy or abnormal. Good, quality sleep can go a long way in making her a sharper, healthier, happier and more in-control individual.
Sources: The Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov; www.sleepfoundation.org; www.sleep-deprivation.com
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