As college students, we are constantly working to be as successful as possible. Often at times, our hard work takes priority over our rest and we tend to sleep less and do more school. However, what you may not realize, is having a constant lack of sleep can be very detrimental to both our physical and mental health.

It’s recommended that you get 8 hours of sleep every night and 7 hours or less is considered to be sleep-deprived. Even if you have one bad night of sleep, your body’s cancer fighting cell count drops by 70% and you can actually end up shortening your life expectancy. Along with that, skipping on sleep lowers your body’s protective antioxidant levels, which can lead to changes in your genes that disrupt your circadian clock and impair memory.

Our sleep chronotype, or our preferred sleep-wake times, can play a great role in our risk for developing depression. In fact, late risers have a great risk because they tend to be the only ones awake when everyone else is asleep, causing them to feel isolated. However, some people who resolve their depression usually do not see improvements in their sleep until they fix their bad sleeping habits.

But what can you do to improve your sleep habits and break the sleep-depression cycle?

  1. Focus on Sleep Hygiene

Creating good sleeping habits can improve your overall sleep and health. You should keep any daytime naps to a maximum of 30 minutes while avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine near bedtime. Establishing a bedtime routine like taking a hot shower, reading before bed, and avoiding screen time can help to induce sleep.

2. Expressive Writing

By writing out your thoughts on a journal or just a piece of paper, you’re able to break up any racing thoughts and calm your nervous system. This can enable you to process pain or other stress in a healthier way.

Regardless of what you make realize, sleep is important and we all need it. Especially as college students now more than ever we need to focus on getting the best amount of sleep possible.