Balancing College Life: The Art of Getting Enough Sleep

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Jessica Liversedge
A colorful sunset with the silhouette of two trees in the forefront.

Entering college is an exciting experience filled with new opportunities, challenges, and late-night study sessions. During my freshman year, I vividly remember the struggle to balance academic demands, my social life, and the crucial need for a good night's sleep. However, after struggling through days on only a few hours of sleep, I've discovered some essential strategies for maintaining a healthy sleep routine while adjusting to the chaos of college life. 

Prioritize and Plan

The first step in achieving a balanced college life is to prioritize and plan effectively. Take a realistic look at your academic and social commitments, identify essential tasks, and create a schedule that allows for dedicated study time and relaxation. This seems simple, but getting into the habit of writing things in a planner has greatly helped my time management skills. By planning ahead, you'll not only manage your time more efficiently but also carve out slots for a consistent sleep routine.

Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Consistency is key when it comes to sleep. Establishing a regular sleep schedule helps regulate your body's internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day. I try to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, which I found leaves my body and mind well-rested to feel ready for the day ahead. Everyone is different, so once you have found the amount of sleep that feels right for you, stick to that. One of the aspects that helped me most here was when picking classes, having a consistent start time each day. This ensures I wake up around the same time each day and keeps my sleep consistent. 

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Develop a bedtime routine that signals to your body that it's time to wind down. I know we all have heard to not use your phone right before bed, but I understand that can be difficult. I have found reading for just ten minutes before I go to sleep has helped me greatly in falling asleep faster and having better sleep quality. Once it's time to go to bed, make sure you are in a dark and quiet environment, as this best promotes sleep. 

Manage Stress Effectively

College life often comes with its fair share of stressors. Learning to manage stress is crucial for both academic success and quality sleep. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your routine, such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or regular physical activity. Going to bed at night feeling stressed about some class work or an upcoming test, for me, often means the difference between a good night's sleep and feeling exhausted the next day. These practices can help clear your mind and contribute to a more restful sleep.

Set Boundaries

While college provides numerous opportunities for socializing and extracurricular activities, it's essential to set boundaries. Learn to say no when necessary and prioritize self-care. For me this was huge. Freshman year I had friends staying in my room till 2 am hanging out. It's hard to think about how this may impact you, because as a freshman your goal is to make new friends. However, balancing your social life with academic responsibilities and self-care is crucial for avoiding burnout and ensuring you have the energy to engage fully in both aspects of college life.

In conclusion, finding the balance between academics, social life, and sleep is a challenge many college students face. By prioritizing, planning, and adopting healthy sleep habits, you can set yourself up for success. Remember, being well rested better prepares you to handle the demands of college, leading to improved academic performance and an overall more enjoyable college experience.

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