The end of the school year is an exciting time.
The sun is shining across the Palouse hills, flowers are blooming and summer break is just around the corner. Some of us are wrapping up our first year in college, while others are making the final stride toward the finish line of graduation.
With all the excitement, it can seem easier to push aside obligations and schoolwork, especially when the last few weeks of school seem to be packed with never ending assignments and final projects.
Procrastination can get the best of us, but there is one important fact that needs to be considered in this equation — sleep.
When it comes to dead week and finals week, it can often feel like the work and studying never ends. Students are much more susceptible to a sleep deficit due to craming for exams or finishing a final project due at 8 a.m. the next day.
Lack of sleep can have numerous effects on the brain. Sleep is an important aspect to learning as well as our ability to store information into our short and long-term memory. The average amount of sleep adults and teens should get each night ranges between 7-9 hours.
When hours start to slip below that line, our bodies feel the effects. The negative effects can include a decrease in alertness in class, problem solving ability, concentration, immune system, reasoning and attention span.
Inadequate sleep is also closely linked to poor judgement, being susceptible to bad moods, decreased memory and poor grades.
With all of this talk about what lack of sleep can mean, you are probably wondering how you can improve your sleep health.
Here are some tips about how you can get a great night’s sleep to help get you through these next few tough weeks of school.
- Avoid coffee, energy drinks and alcohol. Instead, try going herbal with chamomile tea, which can help calm your body to sleep.
- Avoid cramming for a test all night. Instead, try to set aside time each day leading up to an exam. This can mean as little as 30 minutes, but in the long run you will feel more prepared.
- Exercise. One of the best things about our university is the great Student Recreation Center. Take advantage of the wellness classes offered throughout the day. This can act as a study break and help you snooze at night.
- Maintain a nutritious diet. “Stress Eating” is something a lot of us are guilty of. Instead, try and eat foods that contain complex carbohydrates, Omega-3 Fats or magnesium, such as oatmeal, nuts or avocado. These are all great nutrients for brainpower.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. During finals week, our schedules seem to get out of whack with there being no regular class schedule. Try to set your alarm at the same time each day. If you don’t have an exam that day, this may help get your day started to study for your next test.
Amy Monroe is a peer health educator with Vandal Health.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org