Christmas break flew by and school is just about to be back in session. After nearly a month of no classes, mooching off of our parents’ groceries and sleeping in, how are students expected to get back into pace with a class schedule – or a sleep schedule, for that matter?
For those of you who have been staying up past 2 a.m. and sleeping until noon (and not because you were working on homework!), here are a few tips to ease you back into those 8 a.m. wake up calls:
Start adjusting your sleep schedule now
If you wait until the night before classes to start going to bed before midnight again, your first week back will be tough. Over break, you most likely got back into the habit of sleeping in and staying up late –- a no go for college students during the semester. To prepare for rising earlier for class, you need to reset your internal (or circadian) clock sooner, rather than later, to make the adjustment back into your school schedule easier.
According to a 2015 study by the University of Georgia Health Center, the average college students gets 6-6.9 hours of sleep a night. Too bad that’s typically not enough. Most adults need somewhere between 6-10 hours of sleep each night to function best. Not only will you feel more rejuvenated for class, your academic performance is bound to improve, as well.
To make getting to bed at a reasonable hour easier…
Set yourself a bedtime
Every day you should calculate what time you should go to sleep in order to get up and out the door on time in the morning. For example, if the registering-for-classes-odds just weren’t in your favor this semester and you have an 8 a.m. class, (and it takes you 30 minutes to get ready… and then another 30 minutes to stop by Einstein’s for some coffee before walking to Temple) you need to be up by 7 a.m.
And if you can do basic math, I’m sure you can figure out what time you should be in bed to aim for those solid eight hours of shut-eye. Of course, depending on how quickly you fall asleep, you may need to go to bed even earlier than you calculated.
Reset your internal clock
Before jumping all the way back into a regular sleep schedule, try dipping in a toe or two first. Everyday, move your bedtime back by 15 minutes for three to four days. Try waking up earlier on these days too. Do this every day of the week (yes, that includes weekends) until you start falling asleep at your decided-upon bedtime again.
But remember, everyone’s different. If you think that a week isn’t long enough to get you back into the swing of having a bedtime, trying extending this method. Of course, if you aren’t the best long term planner and are now realizing you have less than a week to try this trick out, you may want to speed up this process.
What does that mean, you ask? Well, you’re probably not going to like it. Rather than moving your bedtime back by 15 minutes every night, try moving it back by an hour or two. This can be tough, but once the semester starts back up, you’ll realize it was worth it.
If you want to avoid feeling groggy on the first day of class, give these three tricks a go to start off the semester strong.
Online News Editor, Maura Mazurowski
Maura is a junior cinema and journalism student. She’s interested in combining investigative journalism with filmmaking, and is a contributing writer for the online publications Elite Daily and Literally Darling. Before transferring to VCU, Maura was an editor for the student newspaper at Virginia Tech, the Collegiate Times. // Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Portfolio
Graphic Designer, Sarah Butler
Sarah is a junior studying communication arts. In addition to being a graphic designer and contributing illustrator for the CT, Sarah also tutors math and is starting a business with her friends called No Stone Collective. Her ideal lifestyle would include lots of hiking, live music and road trips with a dog as a loyal sidekick. // Facebook | Portfolio
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