Get Eight Hours!
Sleep is a critical factor in UT students’ academic success and well-being, and for many students it is in short supply. Students have strenuous schedules, with academic requirements, social and personal needs, sports, clubs, Greek organizations, employment, and planned activities all competing for their time. With so many activities and too few hours, sleep often comes up on the short end with time allotment. This can result in sleep deprivation and some students depending on caffeine and other stimulants to stay awake.
Tips for Better Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends these habits to make sure you get a good night’s rest:
- Establish and stick to the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends! The body loves patterns and consistency. When you have a regular sleep schedule it’s easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual that prepares you for sleep. Find a few ideas at sleep.org.
- Change your environment so that it helps you sleep. Keep your room a cool temperature. Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable. Eliminate distractions such as phones or tablets, light, and noise. Blackout curtains and eye masks can keep out the light, and ear plugs and fans can help cancel out noise.
- Avoid heavy or spicy meals, caffeine, alcohol, or cigarettes before bedtime.
- Avoid naps if they are interfering with your ability to fall asleep at night.
What Happens When You Sleep?
REM Sleep, Dreams, and the Circadian Rhythm
The most vivid and memorable dreams take place during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. During REM sleep, eye movements correspond with what the sleeper is looking at in the dream, while the rest of the body is paralyzed at the brain stem. The sleep and dream cycle varies between individuals, but the majority of healthy people exhibit a consistent pattern illustrated by the graphs above.
The circadian rhythm is a twenty-four-hour cycle the human body goes through each day. Within this day and night cycle there is a six- to ten-hour period in which we sleep. This sleep period includes both deep sleep and REM sleep.