Dealing with Sleep Deprivation in College

Dealing with Sleep Deprivation in College: 7 tips to sneak in more sleep | College with Caitlyn

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this semester it has nothing to do with integrals, spherical coordinates, accessor methods, or standard deviations. It’s that going to class with just a few hours of sleep is absolutely miserable.

I have 8 a.m.’s three days a week and work at 8 a.m. two to three times a week, so I’m up early almost every day. I don’t mind that. I love getting up early, I just don’t love getting up early after staying up past my 9:30 bedtime. (Which I don’t think I’ve even met since winter break to be honest).

I’ve slowed down a bit since spring break, and have been giving myself more rest and sleep, but the weeks before spring break I was totally overexerting myself. My typical weekly schedule looked something like this:

crazy spring schedule

I was so dang tired all the time y’all. I was getting up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. every day but not going to bed until at least midnight because I had homework to do, food to cook, a shower to be taken, friends to keep up with, blogs to write and cute boys to talk to.

I don’t regret stretching myself so far. I’ve had my best semester so far here at college, and I attribute it to the fact that I’ve gotten out so much more instead of holing up in my dorm like I did every other semester. So while I would never do this to myself again, I know it happens to some college students and I want to help you!

I’m going to show you how to cope with the days, weeks, and months (because it happens) where you find yourself sleep deprived. Oh, and how to avoid it too, because that’s what I’ve learned this second half of the semester!

First, let’s start with how to deal when you do end up only getting a measly 5 hours of sleep – or less:

Eat good food

Also, just eat good food in general. Food is fuel, so if you’re not eating or eating like crap then you’re going to be dragging and not able to keep your eyes open.

Don’t fall into the trap of eating Taco Bell, Papa John’s and Steak & Shake every day. Because you’ll feel extremely sluggish. There’s no problem with treating yourself when you really want it, just don’t do it every day, especially not when you haven’t slept very well.

Instead, opt for fruits and veggies. Maybe a good smoothie or salad. Or if that’s too “healthy” for you, try opting for yogurt, nuts or even some chips and guac as a snack. It’s better for you than Doritos – or so I tell myself.

Also, don’t you dare skip breakfast!

Don’t go back to your room

I was just telling my friend the other day that my number one secret to not sleeping all day long is not going back to my room between classes. If I did, I’d be out and asleep in no time. Instead, I’ll hang out in the student union between classes, go read in my favorite spot on campus, go to the gym, or go to tutoring for statistics.

Just stay out of your room, and away from dead silent places. Instead, go somewhere with a good deal of people so the noise keeps you awake, and you aren’t tempted to take a cat nap that turns into you falling asleep for the day at 2pm.

sweat it out

Sweat it out

It may seem counter intuitive, but I attribute the energy and motivation I have to knock out some homework once I finally get back to my dorm 14 hours after leaving that morning to the fact that I hit the gym.

During the school week, I go the gym about three times. On Monday’s, I’ll go right after my 8 a.m. calculus class, which is honestly one of the only reasons I wake up and can make it through that class. I wake up excited to hit the gym, so I have no temptation to hit snooze or skip class. Plus, then I don’t really have to get ready. Just throw on some spandex and a tank, eat a bowl of cereal and toss my hair up in a pony. That means I get to sleep for another 45 minutes or so since I don’t have to do my hair or make-up.

Related: How to Get Motivated to Hit the Gym

The other two times I go are Tuesday and Thursday after my evening class. Most times, I’m so exhausted that I don’t even want to make the five minute walk to the rec center, but I’m always glad I do. I’ve never not left the gym more hyped than when I arrived. I leave with the energy to run a 5k, which I channel into my statistics and calculus homework after hopping in the shower and throwing a veggie burger on the stove.

Now, the things I’ve learned this half of the semester: how to squeeze in those extra minutes of sleep and not be so tired throughout the day.

Keep those precious minutes of sleep

A month ago I was introduced to the magical creation that is the Sleep Cycle app.

I discovered this app while reading Jasmin’s blog. Basically, Sleep Cycle analyzes your sleeping patterns (awake, sleep, deep sleep) depending on how much noise your making in bed and then wakes you up when you’re most awake during the 30 minute interval you preset. I was pretty skeptical of it at first, but now I use it every night!

I usually set it to wake me between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. It may seem like 30 minutes is a huge time gap, and how the heck is that supposed to help you sleep more? Well because it has a lovely little snooze feature!

Let’s say the alarm goes off at 6:33 a.m. I pick up my phone and when the screen wakes up the sounds turns off. Then when I see it’s too early to get up, I just set my phone back down and the app waits until I’m “awake” again to go off again. Gone are the days of hearing your alarm, tapping to end it, and then falling back asleep. The only way you turn off the alarm is to swipe on the screen, and then a graph will pop up showing you your sleep for that night. How cool, right? I always love looking at analytics like that.

Don’t drink coffee after noon

Do not drink that coffee after lunch y’all. Just don’t do it. It’s bad and it screws with your sleep schedule more than you would think. Unless you’re really planning on staying up for hours past your bedtime (which I don’t recommend), put the cup down and pick up some water and eat a snack instead.

Related: What I Learned from Three Weeks Without Coffee

spring outfit

Have your outfit picked out the night before

This is something I’ve been doing as long as I can remember. Like I’m talking elementary school. So if that doesn’t attest to how helpful this is, then I’m not sure what will.

And funny story: of course the one time I was too lazy to lay out clothes the night before I woke up 13 minutes before class started! I was running around my room jumping in and out of clothes like those crazy scenes in movies. But don’t worry, I made it to class on time!

So save yourself the stress and time in the morning and just lay out some clothes the night before.

Boys aren’t worth losing sleep over

Okay, let’s get real for a hot minute.

College is a time for meeting new people and staying out late and having fun. BUT, that doesn’t mean you should let anything get in the way of your college success or your health.

Yes, you may really like this boy (or girl, whichever team you bat for) but do you really need to stay up until 2 a.m. texting them about random nothing? Or just staying awake hoping they text you back?

The answer is no.

Related: What it’s Really Like to be Single in College

Put yourself first and get some rest. Your good night’s sleep and education should come before any boy who you’re not even fully confident likes you. So tell him goodnight and get some beauty sleep.

How do you survive on little to no sleep?

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