Tips for college students looking to improve their sleep habits

Learning involves three distinct brain processes: acquisition, consolidation, and recall. Getting your sleep is essential for all three


Going out with friends and procrastinating is tempting, but it may hurt your grades. College students who plan ahead to study and set aside the time to sleep may be better off.

Research suggests there is a connection between sleeping, learning and proper memory function.  Experts recommend that students avoid being sleep deprived. 

College students typically need between eight to nine hours of sleep a night. Studies suggest they typically get closer to six hours. 

Here are some sleep tips for college students (or anyone) looking to improve their sleep habits.

—Exercise regularly, but not after the early evening. Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. Try to avoid late-night eating and alcohol, but don't go to bed hungry, either.

—Don't use electronics — laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc. — late at night. Not only will the content stimulate your brain, the brightness of the screen is comparable to a morning walk in the sun when it comes to waking you up.

—Make your bed a place just for sleep. Don't study, watch TV or do anything else there (or not much else. Some colleges advise limiting your bed to the "three S's" — sleep, sex and sickness).

—If you have early classes on some days, try not to sleep in on the others. Experts say a regular schedule is the most essential element of a healthy sleep routine.

—Try to avoid naps, and if you do nap, nap before 3 p.m. and for no more than 20 minutes. Otherwise you'll keep yourself up at night.

—Set your alarm clock — but for the evening, at a reasonable bedtime. That way, you're less likely need it in the morning (if you need an alarm clock to wake up feeling rested, you're not sleeping enough).

— Studies have shown that lavender aromatherapy has the power to influence the quality of sleep in some subjects. It could become a part of your pre-bedtime routine to spray it on the pillow or light up a candle.


  • Only 11 percent of American college students sleep well, and 40 percent of students feel well rested only two days per week.
  • Inadequate sleep appears to affect the brain's ability to consolidate both factual information and procedural memories about how to do various physical tasks.
  • The most critical period of sleep for memory consolidation is in the hours immediately following a lesson.

SOURCE: Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.