Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you need to do to maintain good health (along with maintaining proper nutrition and being physically active). Lack of sleep can wind up leading to more stress and an inability to focus, and it can also make you vulnerable to illness.

It is recommended that college students get at least 7–8 hours of sleep per night.  Consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep has been shown to decrease academic performance, so staying up all night to study is actually more likely to hurt than to help!


If you’re having sleep problems (or are not getting enough sleep), you may be experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Constant fatigue/exhaustion
  • Increased movement/Irregular breathing during sleep
  • Restlessness/difficulty falling asleep
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Frequent headaches


A lot of the time, sleep problems can be cured by a simple change of routine. Some tips to help improve your sleep include:

  • Leave at least 30 minutes between studying/doing work and going to bed. This includes putting down your phone, laptop and other electronic screens. Let your brain relax before you put your head down to rest.
  • Try drinking a glass of milk before bed really can help you sleep! Milk contains an enzyme called tryptophan that induces drowsiness.
  • Avoid caffeine for a few hours before you plan to go to bed and try not to eat directly before going to sleep.
  • Napping is a tricky. For some, napping during the day can be a great way to catch up on sleep. But if you suffer from insomnia, napping might actually make it more difficult to sleep at night. In this case, try doing some relaxation exercises such as meditation or yoga during the day or before bed.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If a change in your behavior/routine is not enough to help you sleep better, you may be dealing with a sleep disorder. There are several types of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome (RLS). Consult with your doctor if symptoms persist. They may refer you to a sleep specialist who will provide you with a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Causes & Prevention

Most sleep problems are brought on by stress and anxiety. In a college atmosphere, that stress usually stems from exams, homework, and problems/issues in your social and personal life. Sleep problems can usually be avoided by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and regular physical activity. Sticking to a routine can also help create healthy sleep habits. Try to be consistent with the times you go to bed and wake up.

Sometimes the issue isn’t actually a sleep problem but is just the result of not scheduling enough time to sleep. Make sure that you are not so over-scheduled that you literally do not have 7–8 hours of free to devote to sleep. Also, be aware that certain medications (stimulants, decongestants) and alcohol or drug use can interfere with normal sleep patterns.

Make sure you get enough sleep, physical activity, and proper nutrition.
Meditation can be a simple and effective way to manage stress. Click to Learn More.