Posted: April 14, 2012 by jerkmagblog in VAULT -- archives

My sleep schedule is all over the place: five hours here, ten hours there, and the occasional after-class nap – it’s a wonder that I’m even remotely functional most of the time. All kidding aside, sleep is an absolute necessity, and I’m willing to bet that only a handful of college students (grads and undergrads) are on a healthy sleep schedule.

According to my go-to website, fitsugar.com, there’s a little bit of a goldilocks complex when it comes to the amount of sleep we should get, per night. Anything under six hours is too little, while anything over eight hours is too much; we’re urged to get seven hours of sleep per night, which can be quite the challenge for those of us with ridiculous amounts of work to do.  But getting that perfect amount of sleep each night will not only help you to perform at your best on a daily basis, but it will also ward off health problems that may show up down the road.

Those of us who get less than six hours of sleep at night are at a greater risk of stroke, heart attack, and congestive heart failure. Those of us who get more than eight hours of sleep at night are subject to heart problems as well, such as chest pain and coronary artery disease. Basically, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Luckily, we’re all still young enough to start (and keep) getting quality sleep. Here are some tips for getting that recommended seven hours of sleep per night:

  1. Stay on schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will train your body, which isn’t used to getting a proper amount of sleep, what it means to get the daily recommendations for sleep. This rule also applies to weekends – sleeping too little (or too much) on weekends doesn’t make up for your unfavorable sleep schedule during the week.
  2. Sleep in silence: Personally, I can’t sleep without the television on, which is probably the reason I don’t go to bed until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. When you keep electronic devices on while trying to hit the hay, the extra light in your room signals for your brain to stay awake (you can thank Melatonin for this) Fix this easily by simply unplugging from the technological world at bedtime.
  3. Keep the bed for sleeping: While it’s inviting to use your bed as your desk, constantly doing homework under the covers isn’t going to  translated well when you actually have to get some shut eye under those same sheets. Next time, use a desk or kitchen table when you’re in need for a place to write that paper and leave the bed for some post-work relaxation.
  4. Be healthy: In addition to these quality sleep rules, exercise and a balanced diet also do wonders for some grade-A snooze time. Just make sure you’re not going for a five-mile run right before bed – those endorphins will keep you up for a while.

—Amber Brenza

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