Teaching Kids How to Sleep Better
Published on Sep 26, 2017
Dr. Pankaj P. Singh

It’s September and college is back in session!

It’s an exciting time for sure: a new chapter in a student’s life. But it’s also a time plagued by uncertainty and questions like what am I going to major in? Sailing club or Student Theater? Which classes should I take and what will my course schedule be like?

While a lot of new questions come up, one thing is for sure: college students need their sleep. As a parent of two college-bound teens I can confirm that they love their sleep!

A recent study showed that problems with not enough and regular sleep are just two of the many factors that adversely affect students’ academic achievement. In fact, according to the CDC, we are now in the age of a full-out sleep deprivation epidemic.

Sleep your way to graduation

Healthy sleep habits are absolutely critical to the academic success – not to mention the emotional and physical wellbeing — of college students. Yes, college wouldn’t be college without the strenuous commitments both in and out of classroom: labs, lectures, study groups, homework, campus jobs, clubs, dorm room parties, volunteer work – the list goes on! It’s any wonder why so many students find it challenging to fit it all in. If you’re really going to take advantage of all that college years have to offer, who has time for sleep?

Unfortunately, there are some pretty serious consequences to sleep deprivation, especially for young, still-developing college-aged folks. Short-term effects include compromised cognitive function, which affects memory and alertness (not the ideal mix of attributes when trying to ace your midterms).

The long-term effects are even worse. Studies now show that chronic sleep deprivation is associated with a laundry list of conditions including depression, mood swings, binge eating, weight gain, and chronic fatigue, just to name a few.

That’s why there should be mandatory sleep awareness and sleep hygiene classes for college students, particularly for those just coming in from high school. For many campuses, disseminating information to college students about diet, exercise and sexual health, for instance, is par for the course. We must include proper sleep practices – which includes knowledge of time management and appropriate course selection that allows for a healthy amount of sleep – in this list.

Sleep Hygiene: Teach it from the get-go

Freshman orientation is the perfect time to teach college kids about the healthy sleep behaviors they’ll need to become campus rock stars. Interactive courses about time management and designing a healthful dorm room sleep space would help college students start the semester right. The fact that we must sleep unites us: students will be engaged, especially if sleep hygiene is presented in an interesting and approachable manor.

Topics on sleep are by no means boring! Here’s a list of subjects that could peak the interests of many of the campus body politic:

  • The biology of sleep
  • Sleep and society
  • Sleep throughout the ages
  • How to design the most health-promoting class schedule
  • How to set up your dorm room for your best sleep ever
  • How to relax (seriously)

We must inspire our college kids to practice healthy habits and lifestyles that include proper sleep habits. It will set them up for college (and life) success. Doing it from the get-go, at freshman orientation, is the way go.


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