Taking Care of Yourself in College

By Ariana Chen

Sleep is one of the most important things for a college student. However, during midterm season, too often we end up studying and working until 5 am finishing up a project or cramming for a test only to barely make it to our 9 am lectures the next day. This can be even more difficult when we are creating our own schedules when working from home. Sometimes it seems worth it to sacrifice a night of good sleep to get some extra time in to study, but good sleep is extremely important for your health – for boosting your cognition and memory, improving your mood, and decreasing your chances of getting sick.

That being said, 70% of college students are sleep-deprived, and sometimes it really is hard to fit in a full eight hours of sleep. One way for me to make up for lack of sleep is by napping. A lot of my friends don’t nap because they fear they won’t be able to sleep at night or end up napping too long and wasting time. I’ve found that different kinds of naps are really beneficial to helping me stay awake and productive.

My favorite kind of nap is the power nap, a 10-20-minute nap that is perfect for a quick boost in alertness and energy. During a power nap, you body is in non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM), so it’s easier to get up and get back to work right after. A 60-minute nap is considered a short-term nap, and studies have shown that they are great for helping you remember facts, places you’ve been, and names and faces. A 90-minute nap is a REM nap. REM naps are best for improving creativity, emotional and procedural memory, and you’ll wake up feeling great because you will have gone through a full sleep cycle. The best time of day to nap is between 1pm-3pm, because not only is this the time of day when you experience post-lunch sleepiness and lower levels of alertness, napping at this time also is less likely to interfere with your normal sleep.

While naps are helpful, a proper night’s sleep is still most important. Before you go to bed at night, try to power off your devices for at least half an hour. It’s hard to sleep without distractions or disruptions when you live with a roommate or in a dorm, so it helps to make your sleeping environment comfortable. I also use sleepyti.me, a website that helps you feel refreshed when you wake up by finding the best time for you to go to sleep based on sleep cycles.

In college, not getting sleep has become the norm, and sleep deprivation has become expected and sometimes even admired. Sometimes, we even brag about how little we’ve slept, how many all-nighters we’ve pulled, or how we always sleep in class. However, sleep deprivation doesn’t need to be the norm. That doesn’t mean we have to quit studying or be less involved. We should live in a way that prioritizes our health, just like how we prioritize working out or eating healthy, and that means getting a little more sleep.

Featured image by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

Ariana is a pre-med freshman studying Gerontology. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but is super excited to explore Los Angeles for the next four years. She enjoys drawing, swimming, and going to concerts, and especially loves her pet dog Ruby, a rescue from Singapore. Ariana has been working with international students to improve students’ speaking, reading, and writing skills both online and in person for two years. As a second-generation immigrant, she understands the difficulty of adjusting to a new place and learning a new language, and knows how helpful it can be to have someone to talk to on a regular basis, whether it be for practicing language skills, professional development, and just for fun.