Student life

Tips For Students with Sleep Problems

by Shellique Carby-Bird Thursday September 9th 2021

Tips For Students with Sleep Problems-Sleep-Deprivation-students-04

Continuing on from last weeks blog post, please read further on how to improve your Sleep and your life!


Can sleep problems be remedied?

Have insomnia or problems with getting a good nights sleep on a regular basis, start with these tips and consult your doctor if you are still experiencing difficulty with getting enough Sleep.

I urge you to take your Sleep seriously. I had insomnia for years. Because of this, I developed adrenal fatigue and other complications and I came close to death. The symptoms of adrenal fatigue and other complications of long-term insomnia are very scary.


Memory impairment and depression

To get the best out of your time, effort, and money, you need to maximise your learning, academic, and personal growth. Sleepiness from any cause can compromise these goals through impact on learning, memory, grades, perception of effort, driving performance, and mood.

Hershner and Chervin said that evidence suggests that nearly one in four students are at risk for a sleep disorder. Therefore, screening for sleep disorders among students with poor academic performance may well be advisable. Students at risk for sleep disorders were at high risk for academic failure. Among those who screened positive for obstructive sleep apnea, 30% were at risk for academic failure.

There is data that sleep loss leads to learning and memory impairment. It can lead to disturbances in brain function. College students with insomnia have significantly more mental health problems than college students without insomnia.

Depression and Sleep are related to each other. Depression is expected during the college years: Hershner and Chervin said 14.8% of students report a diagnosis of depression and an estimated 11% have suicidal thoughts. A significant symptom of depression is disturbed Sleep. Conversely, insufficient Sleep can increase depressive symptoms.

Improving Sleep may improve depressive symptoms. Cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) administered through email to college students with poor sleep quality produced more significant improvement in depressive symptoms than did an intervention focused on mood and stress reduction.


There are some changes you can make to your sleep routine that may work for you. You will have to experiment to find what works and what doesn't, as we are all different.

Some changes to consider for better Sleep:

  • sleep routine

  • winding down

  • bright lights/TV/alarm clocks

  • caffeine

  • supplements

  • food and drink

Preparation for Sleep

Winding down. Establish a routine to facilitate winding down your physical and mental energy in Preparation for Sleep. It sounds crazy, but if you have sleep problems, you may need to consider this.

Try doing a sleep routine before you go to bed. For example, do not have any caffeine 8 hours before bedtime. Don't do exercise 4 hours before bedtime. Please do not go on your phone or computer two hours before bedtime because their blue light stimulates your brain. Do something relaxing, like reading an uplifting book, meditating, deep breathing, or doing mild house chores. Take some time to 'wind down' before going to bed and relax quietly for 30 minutes.

Don't read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel, which has the opposite effect. In addition, if you are enjoying a suspenseful book, you might be tempted to go on reading for hours instead of going to Sleep! Put your studies away at least one hour before bed (preferably two hours or more).

Give your mind a chance to unwind so you can go to Sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about your deadlines, exams, etc.

Do not watch TV an hour before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the bedroom. Depending on what you watch, it can be too stimulating to the brain, preventing you from falling asleep quickly. TV disrupts your pineal gland function. The blue light emitted from TV's and computer screens mimic the blue light found in daytime sunlight, which can alter melatonin production.

Caffeine, food, drink, supplements

One substance abuse affecting Sleep is alcohol. It causes you to go to Sleep earlier, but the Sleep is poor quality. The Sleep is fragmented in the latter half of the night (you might wake up a few times before going back to Sleep). Alcohol may also increase the risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

Caffeine is another common mistake. In a study, the effects of caffeine lasted 5.5–7.5 hours, suggesting that caffeine consumed even in the afternoon could decrease the ability to fall asleep. The result is that caffeine increases vigilance, alertness and decreases sleepiness.

Most students who use energy drinks do so to help them stay awake after they have not had enough Sleep. The amount of caffeine in these drinks varies widely from 45–500 mg.

The use of either prescribed or nonprescribed stimulants is a growing problem in young adults and students. The most commonly reported reason is to "stay awake to study" or increase concentration. Stimulants make you sleep later and suppress REM [good quality, deep] Sleep.

I have sourced information for this article from Shelley D Hershner, and Ronald D Chervin published research paper in 2014 for the US National Institutes of Health. Subjects in the study who use stimulant medications report worse sleep quality.

You may need to consider a change in what you drink and eat. Certain food and drink can negatively affect your Sleep. It may be a habit you have developed over the years and may not be easy to change. However, it may be worth changing.

Tips for a good nights sleep

Close your bedroom door when going to bed, and get rid of nightlights. Do not turn on lights during the night, especially when getting up to go to the bathroom. Cover up your clock radio and your windows. For example, use blackout shades or drapes over your windows.

For during the day:

Most incandescent- and fluorescent lights that we use during the day have very poor quality light. What your body needs to function at its best is the full-spectrum light you get outdoors. Using full-spectrum light bulbs in your home and study can help get more of the high-quality sunlight during the day.

For during the evening:

For use in the evening, you might be able to buy 'low blue lights'. These light bulbs have an amber light instead of blue that decreases melatonin production. Therefore, these bulbs are great for areas such as your bedroom and toilet. You could also use them in your living room.

It is best to go to bed and wake up at the same time on the weekend as you do during the week. If you missed out on a lot of Sleep during the week, then you can try to catch up on the weekend. But sleeping in later on Saturdays and Sundays will make it very hard for you to wake up earlier on Monday morning if you are allowed on campus. This also applies to students working from home during lockdown. You never know when your government will announce that you must return to campus. When you return to campus, you will have to wake up and sleep according to your university's schedule. Adjusting to the university's schedule will be difficult if you are used to sleeping at odd hours, late at night, irregular hours, etc. Don't be tempted to sleep whenever you want while you are working at home.

At a minimum, try to sleep between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. You should be in bed, with the lights out, by 10 p.m. and be up by 6 a.m. But that is only the minimum. Preferably, it would help if you went to bed early enough to have the opportunity for a full night of Sleep. Adults need about seven to eight hours of Sleep each night.

If you have trouble falling asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.

Put the alarm clock out of view. It will only add to your worry.

If you often lie in bed with thoughts racing through your head, it might be helpful to keep a journal and write down your thoughts before bed.

Your body (particularly your adrenal system) does most of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder gets rid of toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, negatively affecting your health. A stressed adrenal system can cause insomnia.

Avoid using loud alarm clocks. It is very stressful on your body, including your adrenal system, to be suddenly shocked into alertness.

If you are regularly getting enough Sleep, an alarm may even be unnecessary. You could try to use a sun alarm clock. The Sun Alarm™ SA-2002 is a great way to wake up each morning if you can't wake up with the REAL sun.

It has the features of both a traditional alarm clock (digital display, AM/FM radio, beeper, snooze button, etc) and a natural sunrise. It has a unique built-in light that gradually increases in intensity. It also includes a sunset feature where the light fades to darkness over time, ideal for anyone who has trouble falling asleep.

Put your phone in another room from an hour before you sleep if you are tempted to use it in bed, unless you have no other way of waking up yourself with an alarm.

Don't study, read, watch TV or talk on the phone in bed. Only use your bed for Sleep. If you take a nap during the day, then keep it brief. Nap for less than an hour and before 3 p.m.

Don't drink any fluids at least 2 hours before bedtime. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to go to the toilet, or at least minimise how often you go. Go to the toilet right before you get into bed so you won't wake up too early needing to go to the toilet.

Never eat a large meal right before bedtime. Enjoy a healthy snack or light dessert so you don't go to bed hungry. Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin (the happy hormone) production. Also, eat a small piece of fruit. This can help the tryptophan cross your blood-brain barrier.

L-tryptophan is an amino acid. Amino acids are protein building blocks. L-tryptophan is called an 'essential' amino acid because the body can't make it on its own. It must be acquired from food.

Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. These will raise your blood sugar and delay Sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you may wake up and be unable to fall back asleep

Sleep Cool

Many people keep their homes, and especially, their upstairs bedrooms too warm.

Amanda Buys from says in her document' Steps Good Night Sleep', "Studies show that the optimal room temperature for Sleep is quite cool, between 60 to 68 fare height degrees. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless Sleep. When you sleep, your body's internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep." Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be the best environment for Sleep, since it is like your body's natural temperature drop.

Wear socks to bed. Amanda Buys says a study has shown that wearing socks reduces the chance of waking up too soon. Feet often feel cold before the rest of the body because they have the poorest circulation. As an alternative, you could place a hot water bottle near your feet at night.

Supplements that can help you sleep

Try taking thiamine (a herbal supplement), magnesium, and/or anti-anxiety natural herbs like valerian an hour before going to bed. When in bed, listen to podcasts or relaxing music to keep your mind focused on positive things before you fall asleep. You could ask your doctor for Dopaquel, which is safer than sleeping pills, even in high doses.

So be good to yourself. Then you will save yourself from a lot of trouble later on in life.