You’ve heard this before: Adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. But, as with many healthy lifestyle habits (eating more veggies comes to mind…), it’s not always easy to make this a routine. You have assignments and labs due, tests coming up, and laundry to fold. Plus, we know that scheduling in downtime to be social or even just to relax and rewatch GoT is important for your mental health. It’s no wonder sleep often gets bumped to the bottom of the priority list, but there are a few good reasons why you should strive to make those seven hours nonnegotiable.
In honor of World Sleep Day (March 13, 2020), now is the perfect time to start actively working toward a healthier sleep schedule. We know that’s easier said than done, so we thought you might appreciate some tips on how to get more zzz’s.
Why students need sleep (and how to get more of it)
Getting enough sleep can help ward off sickness, manage stress, and improve your focus. And who doesn’t need better focus for studying or absorbing this week’s organic chem lectures?
There are lots of ways to help retrain your body and brain for higher-quality, more consistent sleep. For one thing, you can turn your bedroom into a sleep oasis by decluttering, using blackout curtains, and finding calmer lighting solutions. You can create a relaxing nighttime routine with stretching or meditation. Sometimes it can be as simple as establishing (and sticking with) a sleep schedule that works for you.
Another popular way to help get into the sleep mindset at night and the wake mindset in the morning is using tech. With so many apps to choose from, we wanted to help you sift through it all so you have one less thing on your to-do list. Below, we’ve narrowed it down to three of our favorite sleep apps and why we recommend them.
Do your thoughts run around your head like players in a soccer game all day and night without rest? If so, the Headspace app may be for you. This popular mindfulness app now offers a new feature (called Sleep by Headspace) that caters specifically to the sleep-deprived. Sleep meditations? Check. Nature sounds, soothing music, and a darker screen? Check, check, and check. The makers of Headspace have even created “sleepcasts” so you can now enjoy dozing off to a narrated story about a sleepy landscape. Headspace might be just what you need to bench those players (um, I mean, thoughts) and get some shut-eye.
You can sign up for a free trial or grab the Headspace student plan.
You know the groggy feeling of being jolted out of bed in the middle of a deep sleep? Nobody likes that, so this app works as a smart alarm. First, you set a window of time when you want to wake up. Then, the Sleep Cycle app monitors your sleeping pattern while you snooze. Once you get to your wake-up window, the app senses when you’re in light sleep and wakes you up. The benefit of waking in a stage of light sleep is that you feel more refreshed, which makes it easier to get out of bed.
This app has some serious clout. Along with being recommended by the American Sleep Association, Sleep Cycle boasts millions of installs and a 4.5 out of 5 rating (at the time of writing). Plus, students love it because it’s effective and it helps them feel more alert in the morning.
You can download the freemium (i.e., no-cost) version of the Sleep Cycle app for iPhone or Android on the website. The premium version includes extra features such as long-term sleep tracker trends, sleep aids to help you fall asleep easier, and a secure online backup of your sleep data.
If you like competition, you’ll love the Sleep Score app. This app has scored with the National Sleep Foundation (pun intended) as one of the SleepTech semi-finalists for 2019. The free version of this app analyzes your sleep and gives it a score from 0 to 100. It can then track and graph your sleep scores for seven days. If you want to take it further, the paid version tracks your longer-term sleep trends and provides personalized recommendations to help improve your sleep.
Like Sleep Cycle, both versions of the Sleep Score app include a smart alarm. The app also offers nighttime quotes to help you wind down in the evening and morning motivational messages to help you start your day.
You can download the free version or upgrade to the premium app for long-term sleep assistance. Find out more about the Sleep Score app.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, March 2). How much sleep do I need? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
DePietro, M. (n.d.). Sleep apps—7 best free ones. Retrieved from https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-treatments/sleep-apps/
National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). SleepTech award. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleeptechr/news-events/sleeptech-award
World Sleep Society. (n.d.). World sleep day. Retrieved from https://worldsleepday.org/