Going off to college for the first time is one of the most exciting things you will ever do. You will never forget all the new experiences, people, and activities you are introduced to in those first few days and weeks of school. For most students, it’s a time they’ve been waiting for seemingly forever.
One thing that will also be memorable is your first few nights of sleeping in the dorms or student housing. Hopefully, you will sleep like a baby and wake up rested and ready to face another day of new and wonderful things. However, many students find themselves unprepared for sleeping in this strange new environment. Student housing is not known to be as conducive to sleep as you might think, even though sleeping is the primary purpose of your room. With dozens of students who have various schedules and spaces that are shared, you might find yourself getting less of a peaceful night’s rest than you would like.
In this article, we will talk about some ways you can prepare yourself for sleeping in student housing and give you some helpful tips to get a better night of rest.
Consider Your Bed
During all the excitement of packing to go away to school, it can be easy to overlook small details. If your idea of bedding consists of packing up your sleeping bag and calling it good, you might want to think again. You’re going to want to duplicate the comforts you are used to, if possible.
Most dorms will provide basic mattresses and frames; however, it’s typical for these to be somewhat mediocre. They generally are not as supportive as the bed you have at home and may even be downright uncomfortable. One option that can help make your new bed more satisfactory is a mattress topper. Check with the school beforehand to find out the size of the bed in your dorm room and then shop around for a high-quality topper that will offer you a little more support and coziness.
Additionally, consider investing in bedding like sheets, comforters, blankets, and pillows that will help you create a snug and cozy nest in which to relax. You will be glad you didn’t overlook these essentials when it comes time for bed that first few nights away.
If there is a glaring streetlight outside your window, it can be hard to sleep. Likewise, the sun beaming in at six am may be too early for some students. Consider installing blackout curtains if your room does not already have them. If you and your roommate have separate hours, you might also want to get some soft nightlights to keep from waking each other. Those harsh overhead fluorescents are no picnic to wake up to. You might even think about purchasing an eye mask if you are particularly sensitive to the light when you’re trying to snooze.
If sound is an issue for you when you’re trying to sleep, you’re going to find dorm life can be extra challenging. Parties down the hall, slamming doors, music, and general hubbub may be frequent. There are some ways around this, however. Earplugs made for industrial use will block out nearly any sound and can be found cheaply at most hardware stores. You might also consider a white noise machine or app on your phone to help even out the sharpness of sounds in the building. Some apps even offer guided meditations to help you fall asleep.
Hopefully, you and your roommate can agree on a comfortable temperature for your room. If it’s too chilly, more blankets might be in order. However, if the room is stuffy and hot, you might want to consider opening a window or using a fan to cool you off.
Many people are quite sensitive to smells and odors and will find there to be no shortage of new ones in student housing. While they might not all be bad, even unfamiliar scents can be distracting. One way to keep your room smelling fresh is with essential oils. They are less harmful than air fresheners and offer a more natural way of improving the overall scent.
You and your roommate can experiment with different scents until you come to one you both agree on. Once you get accustomed to the new fragrance, you will be happy to return to your room at the end of a long day of studies.
You are likely going to be sharing a room with at least one other person, and it makes sense that you are going to step on each other’s toes from time to time. It’s essential that you and your roommate sit down and talk about boundaries and expectations, especially those that affect each other’s sleep.
An open and honest conversation about overnight visitors, music, quiet hours, and more can start things off on the right foot.
Developing healthy habits is also conducive to getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep hygiene refers to these habits and routines. Here are a few of the more common ways to increase your quality of sleep:
Set Normal Bedtime Hours
It can be tough when it’s your first time away to impose rules of any kind upon yourself, but your body will thank you for this one. Establishing a regular time to go to bed and wake up will help you get into a healthy routine and make the most of each day at school.
Limit Screen Time
The blue light from your phone and other screens has been shown to disrupt normal circadian rhythms by suppressing the production of melatonin. It is recommended that you stop using your screen two to three hours before bed for optimal sleep.
Develop a Nighttime Ritual
Set aside a time every evening to do chores like wash your face, brush your teeth, set your alarm, etc. Your brain will grow accustomed to this routine and will start to recognize when it’s time to shut down for sleeping.
Easy on the Caffeine
Lots of students find they begin to depend on caffeine to help them complete the demands of their new course loads. However, caffeine is a double-edged sword. Drinking too much coffee or scoffing down too many energy drinks adds extra calories and sugar to your diet and can interfere with restful sleep. It’s wise to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages several hours before bedtime.
Final Thoughts About Sleep
While you’ve probably heard many of the tips above before, sometimes it’s worth noting them again. Now that you are in college and in control of your own schedule, you also have the responsibility of ensuring that you take control of your sleeping habits too.
If you find you’re having difficulty getting the right amount of sleep, refer back to this list to see what you might need to change or adjust that can help resolve the issue. If worry and stress are the culprits, consider talking with your school counselor or RA about your insomnia.
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