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College students are at a high risk for not getting an adequate amount of sleep. Varying class times, demanding work schedules, and busy social lives often mean that sleep is a low priority. However, problems with insomnia and ongoing sleep deprivation have many negative repercussions: it can contribute to memory problems and difficulty in logical reasoning, it can interrupt physiological processes related to hormone function and blood pressure, and it is associated with decreases in both efficiency and ability to concentrate.
Although getting 8 hours of sleep per night is still the general guideline, individual needs can vary from as little as 5 to as many of 10 hours of sleep necessary to feel rested and refreshed. Sleep debt can be a real problem, because it accumulates over time--i.e., a couple of "all nighters" in a week will make a serious impact. Catching extra sleep on weekends can feel like it helps to repay some of this debt, but irregular amounts of sleep can actually serve to interfere with your sleep cycle and to result in increased difficulties falling asleep, also known as insomnia.
So, what to do? Continue reading for ideas on getting a restful night's sleep.
If you have tried all of the above and are still feeling tired all of the time, you might benefit from reading The Exhaustion Cure, a Whole Living article offering solutions to some of life's most common energy drains.
While it is normal for college students to have occasional difficulties falling asleep, regular insomnia can cause serious problems. Symptoms of insomnia include difficulties falling asleep, waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, and unrefreshing sleep. Acute or short-term insomnia may not require treatment. But if your insomnia makes it hard to function during the day because you are sleepy and tired, you may want to consider making an appointment with a professional in either Health or Counseling Services.
For some basic strategies to help combat insomnia, review this handout on Getting a Good Night's Sleep. The article includes links to other web sites for more information on healthy sleep. For further information, Yoga Journal magazine has also written an excellent article titled Sweet Slumber--check it out for additional tips on learning how to relax, engaging in breathing to help you feel calm, and even practicing a few basic yoga poses to facilitate sleep. If you need more help with relaxation, try this link for Audio Relaxation Exercises on our College Students & Stress page or try one of the various free apps available, including a guided meditation for sleep and a white noise machine. And, if all else fails, you can always try counting sheep!
Insomnia Cures--This detailed article looks at the issue of insomnia in greater depth; it includes a discussion of herbs, vitamins, and minerals in the treatment of sleeplessness.
SleepEducation.com--This web site offers "Sleep Tips for Students," information on how sleep affects different individuals, quizzes for evaluating your sleep, a review of sleep disorders and common treatments, and much more.
Find a Sleep Center--Do you think you might have a sleep disorder which requires further evaluation? Search for sleep centers by state. (Note that the closest centers to Geneseo are all in Rochester: Sleep Insights, Unity Sleep Disorders Center, and Strong Sleep Disorders Center; there is also the Sleep Disorders Center of the Finger Lakes in Canandiagua.)