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As you’ve probably heard ad nauseum, college students need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Less than that, and you’re more likely to get sick, suffer from mood swings, and have trouble focusing during class. Though we know it’s not realistic to expect the ideal amount of sleep every single night (with classes, clubs, and parties, who can?), Spectrum’s here to ensure that you maximize your amount of high-quality shut-eye and pay off your sleep debt as soon as possible (no comment on actual debt).

Create a solid sleep schedule:

1. Discover your sleep chronotype

Bear? Lion? Wolf? Dolphin? Say what? Whether you find yourself getting drowsy at 10 p.m., or, on the contrary, feel perfectly at home studying at 3 a.m. at Butler, rest assured: you’re normal. Your internal circadian rhythm might just run slightly earlier or later relative to the 24-hour solar clock depending on the length of your PER3 gene. To begin your journey towards the best sleep of your life, take this quiz to find your unique sleep chronotype.

2. Create a sleep schedule and follow it religiously

Now that you’ve discovered your sleep chronotype, it’s time to create a sleep schedule. Based on your chronotype, choose realistic times to wake up and go to bed that you think you can commit to. Set a reminder alarm 45 minutes before your scheduled bedtime, and make sure to follow it everyday (yes, including weekends).

3. Sleep in 90-minute increments

Since a complete sleep cycle is about 90 minutes (although it can be shorter or longer for some individuals), you’re more likely to feel well rested if you sleep for seven and a half hours or nine hours as opposed to eight. To start, go to, plug in either your bedtime or wake up time, and revise your sleep schedule accordingly.

General Tips

1. Do something if you can’t sleep

We can all agree—lying in bed awake for hours on end is the worst. To combat endless sleeplessness, wake up and maybe tackle that Lit Hum reading that you’ve been putting on the back burner if you spend more than half an hour staring at the ceiling or trying to read 100 pages in 10 minutes.

2. Exercise during the day

There’s nothing like exercise for a good day’s rest. Exercise boosts both the quality and quantity of sleep by tiring you out, making it easier to fall asleep, while simultaneously also increasing the time you spend in deep sleep, the most restorative sleep state. And the best part? The benefits are reciprocal. Better sleep improves workout quality, beginning a rare positive spiral.

3. Make smart food choices before bedtime.

We agree, there’s nothing better than a midnight snack and chat at JJ’s. But those mozzarella sticks, quesadillas, and wings certainly won’t do you any favors when it comes time to hit the sack: Big dinners and foods with a lot of protein and fat are difficult to digest and can lead to indigestion and acid reflux, inhibiting efforts to fall asleep. You don’t need to abstain from food entirely before bed though. In fact, eating foods that contain the building blocks for sleep neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin or a high glycemic index like almonds, chamomile tea, kiwi, and white rice might actually help.

4. Turn off your electronics

Although it can be tempting to relax before bed by scrolling through Instagram, Snapchatting, or texting, the blue light that LED-based devices such as phones and computers emit triggers the release of cortisol, a stress hormone, while also preventing the generation of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Turning off your screens at least an hour before bed is ideal, but we live in the real world after all, so try to minimize the amount of light your eyes receive by downloading programs that filter out blue light, turning down the brightness of your screen, and making sure to keep your screen at least 14 inches from your face.

There you have it: A comprehensive list of sleep hacks to turn to.

Barnard Columbia Sleep Stress Culture
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