Last updated on September 29th, 2016

Getting enough sleep is one back-to-school-resolution we’ve all broken before. With work and social life calling, and no parent to enforce curfew, it’s tough to catch enough Zs.

Sleep is especially important for a college student. You can’t perform properly without recharging, and here’s why:

So I Missed a Few Hours. What’s the Big Deal?

Most adults think the necessary amount of sleep is around eight hours, but it’s actually six to 10, depending on the person. Without enough sleep, these problems may develop over time:

1) Unhealthy immune system

If your body keeps going without any rest, it becomes overworked, which damages your physical health and impacts your immune system. You’ll develop a higher risk of catching a cold or the flu, and that’s not fun during finals week.

2) Memory, focus and attention

Without proper sleep, adults develop irritability, impaired brain function and a short attention span. Add those problems to your research papers, deadlines and exams. Soon it becomes harder to focus, your work isn’t A+ material and you’re constantly in a bad mood. If you want to perform better at school, sleep is a surefire way to lift your spirits and maybe your GPA.

3) Weight gain

Lack of sleep creates hormonal imbalances, which can mess with your diet. You’ll find yourself craving high-calorie foods and losing appetite. This isn’t good when sleep loss already increases anxiety. You could develop the bad habit of stress-eating.

How Do I Get a Good Night’s Sleep?

Maintain a sleep schedule

If your rest hours are all over the place, your internal body clock gets confused. When you actually want to sleep, you might find it difficult.

Create a fixed schedule for bedtime and wakeup time. Eventually your body gets used to the routine, and it’ll be easier to fall asleep. Some apps are great for helping you manage a schedule. For example, Sleepbot tracks the time spent asleep as well as motions and sounds you make.

Exercise

It’s not just for preventing the freshman 15. Exercise relieves stress and boosts energy so you can sleep better.

Perform strenuous activity like power walking, jogging or aerobics during the day, preferably in the late afternoon, for more restful sleep. To relax before bed, do calming exercises like stretching or yoga.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine

The start of a new semester means new things to worry about. Give your brain a chance to unwind and focus on something menial after a long day.

If you’re stressing about things you might forget or need to do tomorrow, make a to-do list. Write it down and put it away so that it’s organized and out of your head. Do some light reading, clean your room or watch TV. As soon as you feel a little tired, hop back into bed and turn out the lights.

If you’re still having trouble, you may have a medical problem such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where you suffer shallow breathing or infrequent breathing during your sleep. If you find that’s the case, seek medical attention.

One Extra Tip

If you really want a good night’s sleep, don’t procrastinate. It’s tough, but you’ll avoid all-nighters and a load of stress when you get things done early.

About the author

Scott Huntington is a researcher and freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington or check out his blog, blogspike.com

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