Photo by Brenda Lin

Sleep has become a foreign word for most Tech students. With assignments piling on, tests to study for, projects due, and time flying by, sleep is often foregone to use the time for other arguably more important tasks. Research has shown that most people need at least eight hours of sleep each night to function optimally.

According to a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 45% of students surveyed reported that they did not sleep for all of those eight hours, and another 25% of them reported falling asleep in class at least once per week. What’s to prevent this, though?

How in the world is it possible to squeeze in eight hours of peaceful, restful, and much-needed sleep when there are so many other things that need to get done?

Don’t Work Where You Sleep.

Something that’s very difficult to do, but in time would pay off, is avoiding brain-stimulating activities like homework right before bed. We all know how tempting it is to work on assignments from the comfort of our beds and how occasionally we’ll fall asleep with our computers or notebooks in our laps.

Despite the temptation, you’d be better off doing work from a desk or really anywhere that’s not your bed.

By not establishing your bed as a place to do work but only as a place for resting and sleeping, your body will recognize that once you’re in bed, it’s time to go to sleep.  This may seem, and likely is, extremely difficult – but do try to have some kind of break or definition between your work and sleeping environments.

Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule.

Even if you aren’t able to get your full eight hours, some sleep is better than no sleep at all. According to a study from Applied Cognitive Studies, “the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking.

The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy.” The average sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes.

By planning your sleep times effectively in 4.5, 6, or 7.5 hour blocks, you may feel more rested than if you had slept an even seven or eight hours. If you are able to, try and maintain that same length of sleep throughout the week. You won’t get the same effect if you have large variations in your sleep schedule – studies have shown that those variations have caused the same effects as getting less than normal amounts of sleep.

By following these tips, you should hopefully be able to add sleep to your vocabulary once again. Despite the overwhelming amount of assignments, by strategically planning your sleep you should be able to reclaim at least some of the foregone time that used to be dedicated to sleep.

Though difficult at first, changing your routine to provide more time for and a more supportive environment for sleep will prove beneficial in the long run.