Sleep Q&A - how to improve your chances of getting a good rest

14 March 2024

Type: Text
Category: Falmouth News

With Anna Hepburn, a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner in the Student Support Team.

Sleep is vital to learning and creativity. However many students struggle with their sleeping patterns, having to juggle classes with course work, a part time job, socialising, travelling and more. This often inconsistent schedule leaves students with very little time left for actually winding down.

But there are habits you can develop which increase the chance of getting a good, restorative nights sleep. We spoke to Anna Hepburn, a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner about why sleep is important and how we can work to improve it.

Why is sleep important for students?

When we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert. Sleep affects how we look, feel and perform, and can have a major impact on our overall quality of life. To get the most out of our sleep, both quantity and quality are important. ​If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all the phases needed for restoring energy levels, strengthening immune system, cell repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. ​Then we wake up less prepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in work and social activities – things that are quite important to student life.

What three pieces of advice would you give to a student who is having trouble sleeping?

Firstly, increase daily activity. Exercise helps reduce stress, improves concentration and focus, but any activity is better than none. ​Walking and time spent outdoors in the daylight can be particularly helpful. Secondly, stop clock watching. There is no benefit to it and knowing the time will probably only make you feel more stressed about sleep. Lastly, don’t take naps during the day to catch up on sleep if you can help it. It will affect your natural rhythm and only add to your problem.

What are some good night-time habits to help you get a better night’s sleep?  

Try and wind down for about 30 minutes before bed, dim the lights, turn devices off, read something, take a bath or use relaxation techniques. Also try and avoid alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, sugar or big meals in the hours before bedtime. It is also important to be informed about any medication or other drugs, they can often affect sleep.

Sometimes I am physically tired but can’t fall asleep – how is that possible?

Sleep problems are very common, about one in three people report having them at some point in their life. Anxiety, stress or worries often play a big part in it. We may be physically exhausted but worrying about things can lead to a stress response in our body, which will keep us awake. If you have been overthinking sleep, or tossing and turning for about 15 minutes, we recommend getting out of bed again. Get up, do a calming task and then try getting to sleep again. This is to help your brain associate bed with sleep and rest, rather than it being a stressful experience.

What should I do if I need help with my sleep?

There are a lot of self-help resources online that can help with sleep problems. Some people might need a little bit of extra help, and that’s okay. Our Student Support Team will be able to help you access the right resources and support.

You might also like