When it comes to being a student, getting a good night’s sleep might not be the first priority that springs to mind. In fact, many students would place sleep fairly low down their urgency list!

However, getting a restful 7-8 hours each night could massively impact your overall physical health and wellbeing, not to mention mental health and mood. From ensuring your energy levels are consistently high and your concentration span is optimised, maybe it’s time you checked up on your sleep hygiene conditions to ensure that you are giving your body the best chance of a good night’s kip?

We know that it’s not always easy to maintain a solid sleeping pattern of 8 hours. Exterior noises, your student home environment, noisy housemates, health factors and stress levels all play a part in the quality and quantity of your sleep. But, there are in fact lots of things you can do to help improve the way you sleep despite these things.

Putting a healthy sleep routine into practice isn’t difficult, it just requires a little knowledge about how and why our sleep is affected by different factors. You might not be able to stick to your sleep routine every single night, but if you try your best to get into a good pattern, then you are sure to reap the rewards when it comes to your university work, social life and fitness schedule.

Here we suggest some simple sleep advice for students. Just four simple steps to help you get a better night’s sleep…


Watch what you eat and drink

Did you know that what and when you eat and drink could significantly impact the quality of your sleep? Therefore, try to eat your evening meal at last three hours before you go to bed. This will help to ensure it has fully digested before you lie down. Following that, try to fight that urge to order a late-night takeaway or snack on sugary sweet treats. If you eat a calorific meal or lots of sugar just before bed, you are likely to wake up with indigestion or the urge to go to the loo in the early hours of the morning.

Avoiding caffeine in the latter part of the day is also a good idea. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours and will affect your ability to fall into a deep sleep. Similarly, alcohol effects your body’s ability to enter the deeper stages of sleep. It might make you feel more relaxed when you drink it, but alcohol ingestion could even have a strain on how you breath during the night. If you have been drinking alcohol before bed, you will probably find that you tend to wake up in the middle of the night as the effects of the alcohol are wearing off and your body becomes dehydrated.


Know when to switch off your tech

Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of taking our phones and tablets to bed. Whether it’s hitting the sheets to finish that last university assignment. Or, scrolling through the posts on our social media account to see what our friends have been up to at the weekend. Numerous studies, however, have found that using a screen before bed is harmful to your overall health.

Even if your conscious mind thinks it’s a good idea to look at your screen in bed, your sub-conscious mind thinks differently. Say you just received an email from your uni tutor that isn’t giving you the best news about a recent piece of work. Or perhaps you just saw a Facebook comment on your post which you thought was rude or unfair. Either way, these things are going to play on your mind as you try to relax in bed and will make it harder for you to settle into a peaceful deep sleep.

In addition to this, the blue light emitted by your screen restrains the production of melatonin. This is the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm), making it even more difficult you to fall asleep and wake up the next day too.


Consider your sleep environment

Your student bedroom should be a place of comfort and relaxation. Maybe there are some adjustments that you need to make to improve the vibe? The first task would be to get rid of anything in your bedroom that might distract you from sleep. This could be a bright light from an outdoor street lamp (invest in a bargain blind), scratchy bed sheets (100% cotton are the best) or a lumpy mattress (ask around your family for anyone who has a spare you could borrow).

As a general rule, it’s better to keep your bedroom on the cooler side, rather than have the radiators blazing with heat. So, if your bedroom tends to get stuffy, then sleep with your window slightly ajar to let in some cool night air (if it’s safe to do so). Make sure your pyjamas are cool and airy rather than thick and woolly.


Take a bit of time out

It’s likely that you have a busy student life. Attending lectures, studying, reading, part-time working, socialising and catching up with family all take time. However, when it comes to your sleep routine, you need to factor in some time to unwind and chill. Even just fifteen minutes of relaxation before bed could make a big difference to the quality of your sleep.

You can do a relaxing activity of your choice for those fifteen minutes. Reading a book or listening to some classical music could form part of your daily bedtime ritual and something that you look forward to each night. Maybe you could practice a short bedtime yoga routine or listen to a bedtime meditation or podcast to help ease your thoughts before you turn off the lights.

A warm soothing bath made with relaxing essential oils or magnesium salts could also be lovely before you get ready for bed. Lavender oil or camomile are two of the best for sleep. That drop-in body temperature after getting out of the bath should help you to feel sleepy, and the long soak should help you relax so you’re readier to snooze as soon as your head hits the sheets. Book in some bathroom time with housemates if you have a shared bathroom and get some space to totally switch off with some self-pampering.


Of course, there will be times when you can’t follow your exact bedtime routine. Big night’s out, impromptu parties and late-night library sessions will all crop up for sure. However, if you follow your sleep rules for most of the term time, you are giving yourself the best chances of achieving your daily sleep goals and improving your overall student wellbeing.