Getting a good night's sleep in the college dorm
This fall, more than 20 million young people will head off to college and one of the first lessons students learn when they arrive on campus is that sleep can be hard to come by. Dorms can be hot, noisy and uncomfortable, which can rob students of sleep and cost them in the classroom.
Ashlee Chadwick, for example, knew coming into college that the courses would be challenging and her schedule would be hectic. What she didn't anticipate was how much she would have to accomplish with so little sleep.
"I definitely pulled a few all-nighters before some midterms and the days leading up to a midterm because you're so busy and then the test comes, and you'd rather get a good grade on that test than a good night's sleep the night before," she says.
That's not uncommon.
It's estimated that 70 percent of college students are sleep deprived, which has a wide range of effects.
"Number one, it can affect how we perform in school. Number two it can affect our immunity," says Dr. Aneesa Das. She's a sleep expert at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who often meets students to offer tips for getting a good night's rest.
She says lack of sleep makes students more vulnerable to everything from infections to diabetes to high blood pressure. So, getting a good night's sleep should be the first lesson you learn in college. And it starts with controlling light.
"We want that room cool, dark and quiet. And then, when we wake up in the morning, when we have to shift our clock forward, try to get really bright light as soon as you wake up," says Dr. Das.
The one type of light you want to avoid at night is from electronics. Turn all screens off 30 minutes before bed and never fall asleep with a TV or computer on.
"That's actually one of the worst things you can do because that blue light that is emitted affects our ability to fall asleep," says Dr. Das.
Avoid relying on pills that help you sleep and coffee to help you stay awake. Both can mask sleep problems.
If it's too loud, keep earplugs nearby and if it's too hot, take a shower - but not a cold one.
"Actually taking a warm shower, as much as you can tolerate two hours before bedtime, so that as the body naturally cools down it induces sleep," says Dr. Das.
Lastly, avoid all-nighters at all costs because once you lose sleep, you never get it back.