Five Tips to Help College Students Sleep Better

We’re mere weeks from move-in day for many college students in the U.S. Many questions are flying through the heads of the parents of rising freshmen. One of these questions may be, “Will they get enough sleep?”

Life for a college student is obviously very different from life as a high schooler.  Parents exert significantly more control over younger kids, even though it may not seem like it at the time.  Once a child gets off to college, they’re more or less on their own.

Sleep deprivation in college students may seem like a rite of passage to some, but it can lead to serious health and academic issues. People suffering from sleep deprivation tend to work on auto-pilot. Unfortunately, no matter what type of student we’re talking about, there WILL be late nights where your son or daughter won’t get nearly enough sleep — sometimes caused by school and sometimes caused by social life.

There are a few things you can do as a parent, however, to ensure they at least have the proper atmosphere for a good night’s sleep.  

  1. Make sure they have a proper pillow: Check out that pillow your student is taking to school.  Has it been around since they were in kindergarten?  If so, replace it.  Older pillows harbor mold and other allergens that can negatively impact the quality of sleep you get. An outdated, out-of-shape pillow can also make it hard to get comfortable at night.
  2. Add a mattress pad: Dormitory beds are notoriously uncomfortable, but adding a good mattress pad can make them tolerable.
  3. Earplugs may not be a bad idea either: It’s no secret that dorms are noisy.  While your son or daughter may be responsible and try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, that may not be the case for others around them.  A good set of earplugs may help remedy that situation.
  4. Talk about what a bed is used for: This will sound strange, but here at SleepBetter we’ve written before about what can happen when a bed is used for a desk, a TV chair, and even a video game lounge.  Remind your college student that using their bed for these things may lead to not getting to sleep when it’s bedtime.
  5. Suggest a good sleep routine: This last one may be a lost cause, but suggest that your new college student stick to a sleep routine.  Going to bed and getting up at the same time every night is the best way to go, but that isn’t likely to happen.  So, suggest they try to go to sleep at around the same time Sunday through Thursday.  Recognizing that Friday and Saturday night probably won’t mean lights out at 10pm, suggest trying to get to bed no later than a couple of hours after their weekday bedtime.