As a college student, you’ve probably been inundated with advice from everyone from parents to older siblings to your RA. I get it – I’ve been there too. And to be perfectly honest, the first time someone told me to give myself a bedtime in college, I rolled my eyes. I was in college, after all. Isn’t college all about staying up late, having fun with friends and eating junk food? I was not going to be that weirdo who went to bed at nine every night.
That line of thinking didn’t last very long. I realized pretty quickly that staying up until 2 in the morning and going to an early morning class was not compatible AT ALL. I mean, duh, right? I knew I was going to have to make a change, but I wasn’t sure what that change was going to be – until I remembered that advice about giving myself a bedtime.
My life changed completely once I figured out a bedtime routine (and no, I’m not exaggerating). I made sure I got seven hours of sleep every night. Sure, there were nights when I stayed up later than the bedtime I gave myself, but it wasn’t every single night anymore. I was ready for my morning classes – I participated more and got better grades. Who wouldn’t want that?
Have I convinced you yet? Here are my tips to figuring out the right bedtime for you!
Know what your sleeping habits are.
Are you a morning person? A night owl? Plan your bedtime around this. Having a bedtime isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that you have to go to bed at a super early time. I’m not telling you guys to go to bed at 10. I told myself that I wouldn’t go to bed any later than 1 AM on days when I had morning classes – so I really wasn’t missing out on hanging with my friends. That bedtime was a good balance for me – and it certainly worked out for a morning person like me.
Figure out how much sleep you need.
Do you have a hard time getting up in the morning? Then you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. The standard sleep recommendation is 8 hours, but you have to see what works for you. Some people need more, some people need less. I personally found that as long as I had 7 hours of sleep, I was good to go.
Here a benefit of figuring out how much sleep you need: you won’t get sick as often! According to the University of Georgia, less sleep can cause a weaker immune system, which in turn means more colds. And who wants that?
See what time you have to wake up.
I typically gave myself an hour to wake up, get ready for the day, and get to class. So for a class that started at 9, I set my alarm for just before 8 (so I could hit snooze once or twice!).
If you find that you’re struggling to get up on time and get ready for class, see if you can switch up your morning routine. Shower at night, pick out outfits the night before, and set your coffee maker to automatically start so you have a fresh cup waiting for you when you stumble out of bed!
Don’t rely on the weekends to catch up on sleep.
Yeah, weekends are great to sleep in ridiculously late. But don’t think that you’ll be able to ‘catch up’ on the sleep you lost during the week. Plus, sleeping more than a few hours extra on the weekend can mess up your sleep schedule for the whole week – and you definitely don’t want that.
If you stay out late on the weekends, try and wake up at a fairly reasonable time on the weekends. You don’t even have to get out of bed – binge on Netflix for a few hours instead! Keeping a fairly even sleep schedule for the whole week will benefit you overall.
Give yourself a bedtime!
Now that you’ve considered all the different factors, figure out a bedtime that works for you. Work backwards from what time you have to get up in the morning and how much sleep you typically need. That should give you a time that works for you.
I normally gave myself about an hour range for a bedtime. That gave me some wiggle room if I had more work to complete, or wanted to hang out with friends, or just needed some extra down time. For classes when I had to get up at 8, I tried to be in bed at 12 and asleep by 1. It took some time to find the right schedule, but once I did, it definitely helped me out!
Amelia Leggett is recent college grad, owner of 2 online businesses, and the social media manager for a nonprofit. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University at Albany, and wants to help you do the same – while still having fun and enjoying the college experience!