The Iglu Guide | Blog

The importance of good sleep – and why it matters

You might think you’re not doing very much when your head hits the pillow for the night, but your body is working harder than ever. As well as processing new knowledge and recharging all your organs, a decent night’s sleep is crucial to restoring your energy so that you can wake up feeling refreshed in the morning and ready to do it all over again.

Here’s why good sleep matters for students – and how to get more of it.

Quality sleep feeds your brain

Getting a good 9 hours sleep every night is like the ultimate fine food for your brain, and research tells us that students who regularly get good quality sleep will perform better academically. But when that exam pressure hits, many students can find it hard to resist burning the midnight oil. It might seem like a good idea at the time, but poor sleep patterns can actually disrupt the learning process, depriving the brain of the sleep nutrition it needs to function to full effect. This can result in attention lapses and reduced cognitive ability. On the flip side, positive sleep patterns have been proven to result in more focused learning, with improved understanding and productivity. Most importantly, you will also benefit from better memory function, which is an essential tool for all students. Better sleep means better results in the long term.

Improved wellbeing

Good sleep can also have a really positive effect on your mental wellbeing – it turns out that it really is a good idea to get out on the right side of the bed. Feeling truly rested when we wake up means our mood is naturally improved, and our energy levels are up. Regularly skipping our sleeping hours can make us feel more tired in the morning and less inclined to want to interact with others. We are then more likely to feel grumpy, misread social cues and generally feel less happy. More zeds in bed – it’s an all-round no-brainer.

Better sleep means better choices

Quality sleep is linked to a healthier lifestyle, and is as valuable to you as regular exercise and a nutritious diet. When we are tired and run down, our body produces an appetite hormone that demands food – and supresses the hormone that tells us when we are full. That’s a pretty dangerous combination late at night, and not one a tired student can easily resist. Poor sleep patterns also encourage our body to release a stress hormone that puts pressure on the heart to work harder. Avoid this danger zone by making sure you get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night.

Boost your immunity right from your bed

Your body is hard at work while you sleep, and this plays an important role for your overall immune system. Just as good sleep helps reinforce your memory and consolidates new information, it also takes the opportunity to strengthen the immune memory while the muscle activity is quiet. If you regularly miss out on important sleep hours, your body does not get the chance to do this. Consistently disrupted sleep patterns have also been linked to more severe allergies and reactions, which means making the time for good, quality sleep is even more important.

5 ways to improve your sleep

1. Establish your routine

Follow a regular schedule, particularly if you suffer from disrupted sleep patterns. Put your books away at the allotted time and prepare yourself for bed with the same relaxing routine such as a warm shower, calming music and some reading time. This will signal to your body it is time to rest so that when you switch out the lights, you should fall asleep more easily.

2. Ditch the digital

Get strict with your screen time habits and ban them from the bed. The blue light prevents you from producing the sleep hormone you need to nod off – which means you are still buzzing when you put the screen away and try to sleep.

3. Limit your caffeine

The smell of fresh roasted coffee can be too good to resist, but make sure you limit your intake to the mornings particularly if you are struggling to fall asleep at night. It can take hours for the stimulant effects of caffeine to completely wear off. It’s also a good idea to limit your alcohol intake if you are struggling to sleep well. It may make you feel sleepy at first, but it does nothing to help the actual quality of your sleep which accounts for the feeling of grogginess in the morning.

4. Keep calm and drink tea

Try adding in a calming herbal tea to your bedtime routine. Drink one early enough so that it doesn’t disrupt your night with extra toilet trips.

5. Minimise disruptions

If you find your environment noisy or your housemates schedule doesn’t quite fit with your own needs, consider investing in some ear plugs to block out the noise. Similarly, use an eye mask to shut out any light and make sure your room is always at a comfortable sleeping temperature.

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

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