Sleep is essential for everyone, no matter their age. It can be especially important to college students, though, as they transition to a new routine, environment, and more. Adults should strive for 7-9 hours of sleep, but many college students get much less than this.
This might be for a variety of reasons. From all-nighters to the freedom to choose your nightly activities to a roommate that snores, consistent sleep is not something most college students can claim. But, there are a few things you can do to improve the sleep you do get. Adding a full bed mattress topper is just one of those things. Continue reading to learn more.
Why Is Sleep Important?
When we are sleeping, our consciousness is altered. While we are comparatively quiet and silent, having very little interaction with our environment (depending on the stage of sleep), that is only what is happening physically. Mentally, the brain is quite active and performs a number of critical tasks. Sleep is essential for all biological processes, including our capacity to fend off disease, strengthen our defenses, control our metabolism, and lower our risk of contracting chronic illnesses. The quality of our sleep also affects how we will feel and think the following day. Because it affects every facet of health, sleep is really multidisciplinary.
Effects of a Lack of Sleep
When you're operating on less sleep than what you need, you're more prone to mishaps, have less judgment, and are more likely to make errors and poor choices. An impairment in hand-eye coordination caused by being awake for 24 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1. Because of this, sleep deprivation increases the risk of accidents, poor decisions, and lack of focus.
Lack of sleep can have an impact on your academic performance and may raise your chance of developing emotional issues like depression. Let's break this down. Consider someone only gets six hours of the eight they require each night. This two-hour sleep loss may have a significant effect, such as:
- Reduced vigilance
- Reduced duration of attention
- Slower reaction time than usual
- Inferior judgment
- Decreased awareness of the surroundings and circumstances
- Reduced capacity for making decisions
- Decrease in concentration
- Increased propensity for mental "stalling" or fixation on a single idea
- Increased probability of depression and irritability
- Decreased productivity
- Decline in motivation
What Can You Do to Improve Your Sleep?
You might not realize it, but the environment you sleep in plays a vital role in how well you sleep. This can be challenging when you're in off-campus housing with a roommate. It can be even more difficult when you don't know your roommate very well.
Shared living spaces are not typically the best place to get quiet rest and relaxation. There is often noise from the hallway, your next-door neighbors, and even outside your window, depending on where your room is located on campus. In some instances, you might not regulate the temperature of your room, making it even more difficult to get a good night's sleep.
Consider a Full Bed Mattress Topper
Let's start with the basics. In your room, you most likely have a standard issue bed. You can supplement this bed with a full bed mattress topper from Sleepyhead. Both the gel mattress topper and the copper mattress topper are great options. While the copper topper is antimicrobial and hypoallergenic, the gel topper provides great support. Both mattress toppers are trusted by more than 900 colleges and universities across the nation. They also both have a washable cover.
You might also consider your bedding. Pack a couple of blankets, one thin and one thicker. This is essential to ensure you get the right temperature for your best sleep. Your pillow should support you while sleeping as well. If you choose a new one for your apartment, get the same one you have at home, or make sure to try it out a couple of nights before moving. Not all pillows are created equally, and having the wrong one can cause issues.
If the noise is coming into your room while you're trying to sleep, consider earbuds that are made for sleep. The same can be said for the light in the room. If you and your roommate do not have the same sleep schedule, they may still be awake when you want to go to sleep. A good eye mask can help block out the light and let you drift off to sleep.
You might also consider using an essential oil spray for nighttime. You can make one on your own or pick one up before moving in. Oils to consider are lavender, chamomile, and cedarwood, just to name a few.
What you eat also affects how you sleep. You might be thinking this makes sense and you shouldn't eat right before bedtime, but it's more than that. What you eat in the late afternoon and early evening has an impact on your sleep as well. Let's talk about the worst things to eat if you're hoping for a good night's rest first.
Chocolate: Chocolate's high caffeine content makes it a bad choice for late-night munching. Caffeine use can make rapid eye movement (REM) occur more frequently during the last phases of sleep, which explains why you could feel more drowsy the next morning.
Cheese: Even though cheese is typically thought of as comfort food, it is one of the worst things to consume before going to bed.
Tyramine, an amino acid that is naturally present in high concentrations in aged or strong cheese, as well as preserved meats like bacon, ham, and pepperoni, helps us feel awake. Tyramine triggers the release of the "fight or flight" hormone from the adrenal gland, which heightens alertness for several hours.
Spicy Foods: Hot sauce, mustard, and other spicy foods are high in capsaicin. By interfering with the body's thermoregulation mechanism, this substance raises body temperature and interferes with sleep. You can bid a deep slumber farewell if you combine this with the high levels of energy needed to process the spices.
Sugary Foods: Did you know that excessive sugar consumption might influence our ability to sleep? We are all aware that eating too much sugar can be bad for our health.
Sugary foods like ice cream and candies initially cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which subsequently fall while you sleep. An emergency is signaled by a blood sugar crash to the adrenals, which raises cortisol levels and awakens the body from sleep.
Salty Foods: Consuming too much salt can make you dehydrated and retain water more, making you feel exhausted. According to a study conducted by the European Society of Endocrinology, salty foods like potato chips and salted almonds are among the worst things to eat before bed because they cause interrupted or "superficial" sleep. If you want to get a better night's sleep, experts advise avoiding salty foods at least two to three hours before bed.
Now that you know what to avoid, you might be wondering what's left! The good thing is that you don't have to eliminate those foods altogether. If you're not having trouble sleeping, or you eat them early enough, they shouldn't affect your sleep. For some, it might be more important to focus on what you can eat before bed to help eliminate any problems.
Foods to Help You Sleep
There are certain foods that help you produce melatonin. Your body produces melatonin, a hormone that affects sleep. Melatonin is produced and released by the brain according to the time of day, rising in the dark and falling in the light. Melatonin is created by your body naturally. It doesn't put you to sleep, but as melatonin levels rise in the evening, it induces calm wakefulness that aids in sleep promotion.
In the form of an oral tablet or capsule, melatonin is also offered as a dietary supplement. Melatonin is frequently used by people to treat sleep disorders like jet lag and insomnia. You could also concentrate on consuming foods that boost melatonin. If you want to get a good night's sleep, try eating these melatonin-boosting foods.
Cherries: Because they naturally contain melatonin, cherries are regarded as one of the finest meals for sleep. Cherry juice or cherry snacks can encourage deeper, more restful sleep.
Honey: The neuropeptide that makes us feel alert and focused, orexin, is turned off in the body by honey while melatonin is stimulated. Drinking hot water with lemon and honey in the evening will help you relax and fall asleep.
Bananas: Bananas are a fantastic snack in general, but if you often eat one for breakfast, you may want to consider having this exotic fruit before night.
Due to their high magnesium content, which helps to calm the body and relax the muscles, they are among the greatest foods for sleep. If you want to get a good night's sleep, try a tablespoon of natural nut butter and sliced banana before bed.
Turkey: Turkey is a fantastic source of protein, and it also works wonders for making you sleepy. This is due to the high levels of tryptophan in turkey, an essential amino acid that naturally regulates mood.
Additionally, tryptophan reduces anxiety, stabilizes hormones, and soothes the body, all of which aid in promoting sleep. These soothing amino acids are also abundant in brown rice, fish, and yogurt, making them among the finest meals for sleep.
Almonds: Almonds, like bananas, are a meal you must eat for sound sleep since they are rich in magnesium, which relaxes muscles.
Magnesium is excellent for controlling blood sugar levels as we sleep, allowing the body to naturally transition from the adrenaline cycle to the "rest and digest" cycle.
Kiwis: Numerous vitamins and minerals are present in kiwi, but vitamins C and E, potassium, and folate stand out.
Eating kiwi has been linked to better sleep, according to certain studies. In a study, participants who consumed two kiwis an hour before bedtime reported that they slept longer and with better quality.
The exact reason why kiwis may aid in sleep is unknown, researchers theorize that it may have something to do with their antioxidant qualities, capacity to address folate deficits, and/or high serotonin concentration.
To get the best sleep, invest in a Sleepyhead mattress topper in addition to having some of these melatonin-boosting foods nearby.
Beyond Your Environment and Nutrition
Once you have your room and food choices settled, you might wonder what else you can do. For starters, it's essential to limit your screen time as you get closer to your bedtime.
It is thought that the light from your phone or tablet mimics the light of the sun, meaning your mind will not know it's time to slow down and get ready to sleep. This can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which is essential for a good night's rest. It is also thought that your mind might be too amped up from scrolling through social media apps to let you get your rest. Instead of closing your eyes and drifting off, your mind is bouncing all over from the things you just read.
You should also focus on getting to bed at a consistent time each night. This can be very difficult when you're in college. Your friends might want to go out, or you may have a late-night study session. You may even close at work, which gets you home later still. Knowing all of this, shoot for a consistent time most nights of the week. If you know you will work later, or go out with friends, arrange your schedule so you can sleep later in the morning and still get in the rest you need.
In college, more than ever, your sleep habits are vital to your success. It's a habit you have to make on your own, one of many choices that come rushing at you in a short amount of time. Do your best to create the best scenario for you. Supplement your bed with a full bed mattress topper, eat healthy in the evening, and consider earbuds to help block out the noise. The little things will build up to a better quality of sleep and better grades and focus in the long run.