Ask the Experts:

Superior sleep

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To the experts: I​ ​have​ ​a​ ​simple​ ​question​ ​that​ ​I'm​ ​sure​ ​will​ ​have​ ​a​ ​complicated​ ​answer:​ ​how​ ​do​ ​I​ ​get​ ​better sleep? I​ ​know​ ​that​ ​sleep​ ​is​ ​important​ ​and​ ​I​ ​know​ ​that​ ​there​ ​are​ ​tons​ ​of​ ​benefits​ ​to​ ​maintaining​ ​a good​ ​sleep​ ​cycle.​ ​But​ ​I'm​ ​having​ ​trouble​ ​sleeping​ ​properly​ ​here​ ​at​ ​school.​ ​I'm​ ​sure​ ​the solution​ ​is​ ​as​ ​complicated​ ​as​ ​the​ ​causes,​ ​which​ ​are​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​place:​ ​my​ ​roommate snores​ ​(he​ ​says​ ​I​ ​do,​ ​too!),​ ​I'm​ ​in​ ​a​ ​new​ ​and​ ​unfamiliar​ ​place,​ ​my​ ​bed​ ​isn't​ ​comfortable, my​ ​room​ ​is​ ​cold,​ ​I'm​ ​working​ ​late​ ​(and​ ​partying​ ​late,​ ​too)...​ ​and​ ​so​ ​on.​ ​Can​ ​the​ ​experts give​ ​me​ ​any​ ​tips?

From the experts: Sleep certainly is important — and not enough of us get the amount we need. Experts say we should sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night (the exact amount that we need varies from person to person). The average college student gets 6 to 6.9 hours . That may not be as bad as some of us assume, but it's still less than ideal. Of course, some students sleep more than others — and studies show that those differences register on report cards. Students who sleep for an average of more than 8 hours a night have measurably higher GPAs than those who sleep for an average of less than 6, studies say. No wonder we get so many questions like yours! 

You're right, of course, that the causes of your rough sleep patterns are all over the place. And you can, in fact, address these things one by one. You may not be able to upgrade your bed or mattress in your dorm room, but you can get softer and cozier sheets and blankets. The comfort experts at Plumeria Bay point out that duvets and duvet covers are good options for college students: duvets are big, comfy, and warm, and duvet covers are conveniently removable and washable. As for snoring, there are solutions there too. Experts in snoring and sleep apnea and companies that are changing the way you sleep are battling against the remarkably common issue of snoring (45% of us snore, and 25% do so habitually!).

There are also, however, some steps you can take to tackle your sleep patterns more broadly. Rather than address each individual thing messing with your sleep, you may find that it helps to take a broad view of your sleep patterns. There are apps that track your sleep habits, and you can do the same thing yourself with a pen and paper. Recording when and how well you sleep can give you a sense of what's going wrong: maybe you sleep more poorly after hard-partying weekend nights, and ought to take it a little easier. Maybe you're allowing your bedtime to drift later and later as the week goes on, or maybe you're simply not waking up when you should —throwing your schedule off for the next day. Track and realign these macro patterns, and you may find that your sleep schedule can return to normal without many changes to the smaller things you identify as causes of your sleep deprivation.

“Put my head under my pillow, and let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be.” — Stephen Chbosky