For some strange reason, we wear the ability to function on limited sleep as a badge of honour. This can be particularly true for uni students, who can tend to burn the midnight oil to smash out assessment items and use caffeine as a prop to make it through the next day. But why? We know that poor sleep is linked to poor health, both physical and mental. We here at CDU are firm advocates of a good night’s sleep, because it supports great study habits and uni experiences. Read on to find out more about how to get a decent night’s shut eye.
“Sleep deprivation is a general term to describe a state caused by inadequate quantity or quality of sleep, including voluntary or involuntary sleeplessness and sleep disorders” https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
Why is sleep deprivation such a problem?
Sleep debt is like an overdrawn bank account: the lost hours of shut-eye accumulate every night until the drowsiness reaches a critical level. While you can repay your sleep debt to some extent, you can only make up for recent lack of sleep, tracing back to a few weeks or a month. So, if you’ve experienced years of sleep deprivation, you’ll never be able to repay that sleep debt. What’s more, according to the Australian Sleep Health Foundation, women in their twenties who experience sleep problems are ten times more likely to have sleep issues in your 30s than anyone else. Unfortunately, you’ll pay dearly for that sleep debt that you don’t reconcile, as prolonged sleep deprivation can present itself as obesity, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, or heart diseases from middle age.
While the long-term poor health outcomes of sleep deprivation are awful, the short-term effects aren’t going to work in your favour as you work towards completing your degree. This is because a fatigued person is far more likely to suffer:
- Poor memory and reduced concentration
- Reduced work efficiency
- Impaired judgement, which can result in more accidents
- Depression and other mental health conditions, which can also include increased moodiness and bad temper.
“When we don't get the deep sleep we need, it inhibits our ability to learn and for our cells and bodies to recover.” TED Talk – Dan Gartenberg
So, how do I improve my shut-eye?
While sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on study productivity, we’ve got some tips for simple practices you can put in place today to make sure you’re getting the z’s you need for uni success.
- Make it a habit of hitting the hay 15 minutes earlier each night. By going to bed earlier, you’ll be off to the land of nod sooner, which will make it easier to wake up the next morning. Winning!
- Rise and shine at the same time every day. Setting yourself a routine and sticking to it might be difficult at first, but you’ll be an early bird in no time.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages in the hours before bedtime, as these substances can stimulate you too much to get a sound sleep.
- Deck out your bedroom so it’s a sleepy-time haven: use soft lighting as you get ready for bed, hang some block-out curtains, pop in some earplugs and hit play on some relaxing music.
- Make your bedroom an electronics-free zone. That includes TVs, laptops and mobile phones!
- Practice relaxing techniques before bed. These might include warm baths, meditation, using essential oils or massage.
- If sleeping is becoming a real issue, seek guidance from a sleep professional.
So, make sure you’re getting a restful night’s slumber so you’re able to give your best at uni and be on top of your health game.