With academics, friends, and part-time work to juggle, students often find their college years to be the busiest of their lives thus far. For current and future college students, it pays to take care of the cornerstone of good health before tackling your hectic schedule—and by that, we mean sleep. A good eight hours of shut-eye can increase brain function, significantly decrease stress levels, and even affect food choices for the better. But how do you ensure uninterrupted sleep in the not-so-sleep-inducing environment of college (and more particularly, a college dorm)? Check out the helpful tips below to find out.
1. Get moving
If you’re doing a lot of shifts at the library and don’t have much reason to walk far while living on campus, your college lifestyle has the potential to be very sedentary. But as research shows, people who don’t get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day struggle significantly more with insomnia and broken sleep than those who do. Expend your pent-up mental and physical energy by visiting your college’s recreation center, or join an intramural sports team on your campus.
On the topic of health and fitness, you should also keep an eye on your diet. The Freshman 15 isn’t a myth, and too many new college students get stuck in the trap of dining hall food and study session takeout. As much as you can, try to eat well! To gain reliable energy in the morning to set you up for the rest of the day, plan a nutritious, fun breakfast to look forward to, such as a berry smoothie or healthy banana-and-oat pancakes.
2. Choose the right media to relax with
You might crash fine at 2:00 am after working on a paper past midnight, but how do you feel by the afternoon the next day? When it comes to forging a regular bedtime routine, it’s paramount to provide yourself adequate time to wind down.
You’ve probably heard that avoiding screens before bed is a good idea. The good news is that there are other, more beneficial ways to chill out besides Netflix! Why not read a book that’s unrelated to your study before hitting the hay? Light your favorite fragrant candle to create some ambience at dinnertime to start you off (if it’s allowed), and from then on, prime your body and mind for sleep.
3. Plan in advance
Are you stressing too often about your tasks and responsibilities when you’re trying to fall asleep? Defend against the specter of night-time worrying by working on your organization during the daylight hours. Make up a realistic to-do list every morning and keep a careful eye on your deadlines to avoid as many all-nighters as possible.
You can also plan your meals and outfit in advance of the next morning so you can rest easy knowing you won’t have to rush around preparing things once you get up (an especially good idea if you’re not a morning person).
4. Block out the light
College dorms—and apartments, if you’re living off campus—are often fitted with flimsy window covers that do a dismal job of keeping out the light. Block out early dawnlight and sustain your sleep by investing in some blackout blinds to fit your windows.
5. Cover all your bases
Dormitories and apartments can be noisy places, especially if your roommates are on totally different schedules. This kind of issue can be accounted for in the application period before even coming to college: do your research on the culture of each accommodation option or dormitory and pick accordingly. Since you can never wholly guarantee peace and quiet, bring some earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones when you move in—they’ll be some of the best things that you bring to college!
Related: Tips for Getting Better Sleep