Students tempted to party hard as they start university life should not neglect their sleep.
That’s according to The Sleep Council who are warning students about the dangers of lack of sleep as they start, or return, to university.
“As students leave home and adjust to independent life and study, it is important they keep to good sleep routines. While a certain amount of full-on partying is to be expected during freshers week, good health and high grades are continually found to link in with getting enough of the right kind of sleep,” explains Lisa Artis, of The Sleep Council.
Research has shown that from age 14-20 waking and sleeping times get later giving a classic teenage nocturnal sleeping pattern, but beware of burning the candle at both ends.
“Teenagers and young adults need eight to nine hours sleep a night. Not getting enough sleep can lead to weight problems as exhausted people make poor food choices and suffer with mental health issues, lowered immunity, stress and depression,” says Lisa.
“Studies have also highlighted that students habitually going to bed late take a hit on their academic results. There’s a growing body of evidence that demonstrates how much the sleep we get impacts on how we perform. A good night’s sleep triggers changes in the brain that help to improve memory, meaning you’ll be much better able to remember what you learnt the day before.”
But for those initial weeks discovering the joys of student life, The Sleep Council has tips to keep sleep deprivation to a minimum.
• Arrange your new digs so that the bed is an area for sleeping. If possible try to keep laptops and screens out of the bedroom, but if this isn’t feasible zone your room into a sleep zone, work zone and play zone. Using electronic devices before bed has been proved to affect the time it takes to fall to sleep and the quality of sleep enjoyed.
• What’s your bed like? A good bed really does make a difference to how well you sleep. If you’re in halls of residence, or a new bed isn’t an option, think about buying a mattress topper or investing in a good quality pillow to support your head and neck.
• Try a couple of hours of snoozing before hitting the student union bar. You’ll feel more alert and ready to party, BUT – allow at least 20 minutes after waking up before you do anything important. It takes that long for the brain to wake up.
• After a big weekend’s partying, use the early part of the week to get in some extra “recovery” sleep.
• You can also “store up” extra sleep in advance. If you’re not too excited about going to uni, bank some extra snooze over the last couple of nights at home prior to the big move. Your body will be slightly more resilient to any sleep deprivation.
• If you’re struggling the next day coffee, tea and chocolate all contain caffeine and related chemicals which promote wakefulness. However, refrain from using in the hours before bedtime as they hinder sleep.
• Lavender, passion flower, hops, orange blossom, Scot’s pine, camomile and peppermint all claim to promote sleep. And milky night time drinks really do help bring on the Zzzs.
• If you know you have a long weekend of partying ahead, you can help keep your biological clock tuned in to your sleep with anchor sleep. Aim to have at least four hours sleep at the same time every night/morning (e.g. 3-7am). This seems to help keep your sleep clock regular.
• Alcohol may allow you to go to sleep if it relaxes you, or it may make you unconscious, but it’s seriously unhelpful to a good night’s kip. You don’t breathe as well and the sleep is more broken because your brain reacts against being unconscious. Alcohol will also dehydrate you, so drink plenty of water before going to bed.
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