student-working-with-peers

It’s 2am in the morning. You are still typing out your assignment and exchanging text messages with your project mates. Sleep? No time!

How Are the Zs Linked to Your A Game?

woman-waking-up-refreshed  

Like you, many tertiary students don't see sleep as a priority, depriving them of their best performance when it matters the most.

Do you know that one of the secrets to doing well is a good night’s sleep?

“Getting enough sleep is very important. When I get seven to eight hours of sleep, I feel alert, can focus well and complete my assignments quickly. When I stay up late for several nights, my focus and concentration is affected. It just takes me more time to get things done,” said Pang Yijun, a Business Studies student at Temasek Polytechnic.

When you sleep well, it has a positive impact on your immune function, metabolism, memory, and learning. In fact, a recent study in Singapore on 56 youth found that after a week of sleeping only five hours a night, they suffered significant decline in memory, alertness, mood, attention, and their mental skills that help the brain organise and act on information were negatively affected.1

So, if you are aiming to do well, aim to sleep well first!

Related: More Sleep Please

Why Local Tertiary Students Don’t Get Enough Sleep

man-using-phone-in-bed  

What keeps you and your friends up at night?

Is it an increasingly digital lifestyle? We know how hard it is to put away your electronic devices like tablets and smartphones. What you may not know is that using the Internet at night increases your risk of poor sleep.2 This is because the blue light from the screens of smartphones, computers and televisions can prevent our brains from releasing melatonin, the hormone that tells our bodies that it is night time.3

Maybe your schedules are simply too packed? Like Chia Wen Chong, a third-year life science student at NUS, who has a heavy workload and after-school activities, and goes to bed only between 12am to 2am.

Or do you view keeping late nights as a badge of honour, thinking you can do more, when you “mug” to study or complete your homework assignments into the wee hours of the night?

Sean Koh, second-year nursing student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic sees many of his peers going to bed after midnight, with some as late as 3am. The reasons? Computer games, completing homework assignments or social activities.

Sounds familiar?

Related: Teens Suffer when They Give Sleep A Rest, Study Shows

Want to Break Bad Sleep Habits for Good?

woman-reaching-for-phone-waking-up  

If you want your mum to stop nagging you to sleep early (and she has good reasons to do so!), how about trying to take charge of your sleep instead? In general, you need to:

  • sleep for seven to eight hours a night
  • aim for quality sleep with healthy sleep habits

Try these to break the habit of staying up late:

  1. Find out what’s keeping you up. Are you preoccupied with a busy social life online or offline, spending too much time completing assignments, juggling school with non-academic activities or have poor scheduling? Identify things that can be eliminated or the timing changed.

    For example, check the amount of time you spend on your mobile device or on social media. There are free apps which can help to rein in your mobile device usage by either giving a breakdown on mobile phone usage, and/or can block the usage of the phone apps that are distracting.

  2. Have a plan. There’s no time to waste! Think about what needs to get done each day, then plan a schedule and create rules, such as no social media after 10pm.

  3. Shift your bedtime gradually. If you are sleeping at 1am and want to change your bedtime to 11pm, set an initial goal of sleeping regularly at 12.30am before moving the target gradually.

  4. A little reward or motivation may do the trick. Give yourself something to look forward to, such as a nutritious breakfast when you wake up refreshed and early. Better still, say goodbye to puffy eye bags and sleepy spells in the afternoons.

Besides aiming to sleep enough, try to sleep well too. To have quality sleep:

  1. Maintain a regular wake and sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  2. Have a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. For example, take a warm shower, read a book or listen to relaxing music.
  3. Create a sleep-friendly environment, such as by hanging up dark curtains, using eye-masks and/or earplugs.
  4. Don’t eat within two or three hours of your planned bedtime.
  5. Exercise regularly, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
  6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
  7. Avoid naps that last more than an hour.

When you get enough Zs, you are more likely to ace your game on campus. And your tutor will never catch you nodding off in class again!


Read these next:


References

  1. Lo JC, Ong JL, Leong RL, Gooley JJ and Chee MW. (2016). Cognitive Performance, Sleepiness, and Mood in Partially Sleep Deprived Adolescents: The Need for Sleep Study.
    Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26612392

  2. Mesquita G and Reimão R. (2010). Quality of sleep among university students: effects of nighttime computer and television use.
    Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21049182

  3. Wood B, Rea M, Plitnick B and Figueiro M. (2013). Light level and duration of exposure determine the impact of self-luminous tablets on melatonin suppression.
    Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003687012001159