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students can beat insomnia

Why Students Are Losing Sleep – and 6 ways to Win It Back!

Are you up late burning the midnight oil again, desperately trying to cram for that big exam? Trust us, we’ve walked those sleep-deprived halls too. The demands of school can often lead down a path of sleepless nights and frustrating bouts of insomnia.

And if trying to stay awake during class feels like scaling Mount Everest in your pajamas, there’s even more bad news. Studies say that insomnia and depression are like old pals. A 2022 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 26.4% of students had insomnia, while the National Institute of Health predicted it to be as high as 74%.

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Chin up! We have a bag of nifty tricks and lifestyle tweaks tailor-made to kick insomnia to the curb and send it crying home to its mommy. These practical strategies will help you take on insomnia head-on, improving your zzz’s and boosting your academic game! Ready for a full night’s rest? Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Insomnia is a common sleep disorder affecting students and their academic performance.

  • Strategies to beat insomnia include setting a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, regular exercise, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and developing a relaxing bedtime routine.

  • Students should seek professional help if they continue to struggle with insomnia despite trying different strategies or if it starts affecting their mental health and daily activities.

student sleeping problems

Deconstructing Insomnia

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Many people have to deal with Insomnia. It means having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep even when you want to sleep. This problem can continue for a long time, making it chronic.

Around 60% of college students struggle with poor sleep quality, with 7.7% meeting all the criteria for an insomnia disorder. These sleep issues significantly affect their daily lives, including their academic performance. Due to irregular schedules, changes in sleep patterns, part-time jobs, and exam stress, they require specialized treatments to enhance their sleep. 

A whopping 74% of the participants reported insomnia symptoms, and 51.9% met the full criteria for an insomnia disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Both men and women can have insomnia, but being female, low income, smoking, and stress can increase the chance.

Long-term insomnia hurts energy levels, mood, and health too. It may also cause problems at work and cut down life quality.

insomnia reduces energy

Causes of Insomnia

Many things can cause insomnia. Some of us may have difficulty sleeping because of school stress or a schedule change. Our habits also play a part. Drinking drinks with caffeine, smoking, and drinking alcohol can make sleeping hard.

A 2019 AASM survey revealed that binge-watching TV was a major cause of sleep deprivation. Out of 2,003 surveyed adults:

  • 88% sacrificed sleep to watch multiple episodes of TV shows or streaming series.
  • Among adults aged 18 to 34, 72% lost sleep while playing video games, while 35% of those over 35 did the same.
  • 66% lost sleep because of reading.
  • 60% skipped sleep to watch sports.

Taking certain drugs for health problems like asthma might keep us awake, too. Not getting enough exercise or having too many naps during the day can also mess up our sleep at night.

We must also check our sleep spaces! A room that’s not dark, quiet, or cool enough could lead to more nights spent awake.

sleeping problems in students

Symptoms of Insomnia

We need to know the signs of not being able to sleep well. These signs show up as:

  1. It’s hard for us to fall asleep.
  2. We wake up a lot during the night.
  3. We get up too early and can’t go back to sleep.
  4. During the day, we feel very tired.
  5. It becomes tough for us to focus on things.
  6. We may start feeling annoyed all the time.
  7. Feelings of sadness or worry may also set in.

Impact of Insomnia on Students

Insomnia’s report card for students? Straight-up F for “Feeling Tired.” They find it hard to pay attention in school due to this. Bad sleep over a long time risks big health problems, too! Insomnia often comes with stress or feeling down.

These feelings are common in students and can keep them up at night. And let’s not forget the daytime shenanigans that sabotage a good night’s sleep. Caffeine-guzzling, Netflix binging until 2 AM, random nap attacks, and the “I’m too cool to exercise” stance are all co-conspirators in this insomnia escapade.

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Insomnia is a mental health struggle, causing increased:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of self-harm.

It doesn’t stay limited to nighttime; it interferes with daytime activities, such as:

  • Thinking
  • Remembering
  • Focusing.

Insomnia also brings its friends along, like excessive daytime sleepiness and more anxiety and depression. Optimism and creativity take a hit, and your grades may suffer.

Experts recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep for young adults, but many students only get around 7 hours of poor-quality sleep.

So, it’s clear that insomnia is more than just about lying awake at night!

Also read: how to manage stress at work.

insomnia increases stress

6 Strategies to Overcome Insomnia

To overcome insomnia, students can adopt strategies such as setting a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, regular exercise, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and developing a relaxing bedtime routine.

These simple yet effective techniques can significantly improve your quality of sleep. Read on to learn more about how you can beat insomnia for good!

1. Setting a consistent sleep schedule

A study in 2020 showed that folks aged 45 to 84 with irregular sleep routines were almost twice as likely to get heart problems compared to those with consistent sleep habits. Research on more than 90,000 individuals also connected disruptions in their daily sleep rhythms to a higher chance of experiencing mood disorders.

This 2020 study isn’t just relevant to older adults; it has implications for students, too. If students maintain erratic sleep schedules, they may be at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular issues, just like the older age group in the study. Additionally, if students disrupt their circadian rhythms, they could be more prone to mood disorders, negatively impacting their overall well-being and academic performance.

We recommend setting a consistent sleep schedule as one of the strategies to overcome insomnia. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, helps regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up refreshed.

It’s important to prioritize getting enough sleep by giving yourself a bedtime that allows for the recommended amount of sleep based on age. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule can improve your sleep quality and quantity, positively affecting your overall well-being and academic performance.

consistent sleep schedule beats insomnia

2. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime

Alcohol can disrupt REM sleep and cause sleep problems. When people drink before bed, they might have trouble sleeping and feel tired. Some may use alcohol to help them fall asleep and then rely on caffeine and other stimulants during the day to stay awake, creating a cycle of self-medication.

Caffeine can keep you up later, shorten your sleep, and make your rest less satisfying. It also decreases the essential deep, slow-wave sleep that helps you feel refreshed in the morning.

We should avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime if we want to beat insomnia. Caffeine in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate can keep us awake because it’s a stimulant.

Alcohol may make us sleepy at first but can disrupt our sleep later. So it’s best to have these drinks earlier during the day or choose alternatives like herbal tea before bed.

By avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, we give ourselves a better chance of getting a good night’s sleep.

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3. Checking the side effects of medications

When taking medications for insomnia, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects. Some sleep medications can cause drowsiness or grogginess the next day, affecting your ability to concentrate and perform well in school.

Other common side effects include headaches, dizziness, and dry mouth. It’s also crucial to be cautious of any interactions between sleep medication and other drugs you might be taking.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication, and report any unusual or severe side effects you experience.

insomnia medication side effects

4. Regular exercise

Researchers found 29 studies between January 2013 and March 2017 suggested that exercise positively impacted sleep quality or how long people slept.

Regular exercise is a helpful strategy for overcoming insomnia. It can improve the quality and duration of sleep. However, avoiding exercising right before bedtime is important as it can make it harder to fall asleep.

Instead, try to engage in physical activity earlier in the day. This could include activities like walking, jogging, or doing yoga. Regular exercise helps tire out your body, promotes relaxation, and reduces stress levels, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

So, incorporating exercise into your daily routine can be a beneficial step towards beating insomnia.

Your Guide to Beating Student Insomnia

Strategy Description
Establish a Routine
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends.
Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Develop calming activities before sleep, like reading or gentle stretching.
Limit Screen Time
Reduce exposure to screens (phones, computers, TV) before bedtime.
Comfortable Sleep Environment
Ensure a comfortable mattress, pillows, and a dark, quiet room.
Manage Stress
Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises.
Avoid Caffeine and Heavy Meals
Refrain from caffeine and large meals close to bedtime.
Physical Activity
Engage in regular exercise, but avoid intense workouts close to bedtime.
Limit Naps
Keep daytime naps short and early in the day.
Herbal Teas or Supplements
Some find relief with natural sleep aids like Chamomile tea or Melatonin.

5. Creating a sleep-friendly environment

To overcome insomnia, it’s important to create a sleep-friendly environment. This means ensuring your sleeping area is comfortable and set up for a good night’s rest. It’s crucial to control your bedroom’s temperature, lighting, and noise levels.

A cool, dark, and quiet room can promote better sleep. If you have pets that make noise during the night, it may be helpful for them to find a different sleeping spot so they don’t disturb your sleep.

Also, it’s best to only use your bed for sleeping and intimacy. Avoid activities like studying or watching TV in bed so that you associate your bed with sleep. Lastly, eating or drinking right before bedtime can activate the digestive system and worsen symptoms like heartburn or reflux, so it’s best to avoid doing so.

Keeping electronic devices out of the bedroom can also be beneficial as their screens emit blue light that can interfere with melatonin production and disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.

Using blackout curtains or an eye mask can also help block out any unwanted light from outside sources.

sleep-friendly environment to avoid insomnia

6. Developing a relaxing bedtime routine

Developing a relaxing bedtime routine is important to overcome insomnia, especially for students. This can signal your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Some helpful activities include dimming the lights, reading a book or listening to calming music, practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation, and avoiding screens before bed.

Studies reveal using screens at bedtime is linked to going to bed later and getting less sleep. This is because screen time can replace sleep, stimulate the mind, expose students to light, and keep them alert. This widespread issue of young people losing sleep has serious implications, including a higher risk of obesity, emotional challenges, and academic problems.

These routines can help relax your mind and promote better sleep quality. So, spend some time each night establishing a soothing routine that works best for you. 

When to Seek Professional Help?

If you’re struggling to beat insomnia despite trying different strategies, it may be time to seek professional help. Reaching out if you experience chronic insomnia is important because it can affect your overall health and well-being.

Seeking professional help is especially crucial if you notice a decline in your mental health or if insomnia interferes with your daily activities and relationships. Remember, there are experts who specialize in sleep disorders and can provide personalized treatment options based on your specific needs.

Don’t hesitate to seek their guidance for a better night’s sleep and improved quality of life.

professional help improves sleep quality


Beating insomnia is possible for students. Just like setting that goal and nailing your final exam, it requires dedication and a game plan. By following strategies like sticking to a sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine, students can improve their sleep quality.

In addition, seeking professional help is important if the problem persists. It’s high time we put our sleep on the honor roll and declare victory over insomnia – after all, who needs sheep when you can count z’s?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is insomnia in students?

Insomnia in students is a sleep disorder where they have difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Why is insomnia common in students?

Insomnia is common in students due to academic stress, irregular schedules, and increased screen time, which can disrupt their sleep patterns. Additionally, social and lifestyle factors, such as late-night socializing and the consumption of caffeine or alcohol, can contribute to insomnia among students.

Can changes in my environment help me beat insomnia?

Yes, fixing your sleep environment, such as light, noise, and temperature, can help improve your sleep habits and fight insomnia.

Are there treatments that can help with student insomnia?

Yes, treatments such as behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy can teach you good sleep hygiene habits, which will help combat insomnia.

Do things like caffeine affect how well I can fall asleep?

Caffeine (found in coffee), alcohol, and nicotine all have effects on your ability to fall asleep or disturb normal sleeping patterns, which could lead to developing a chronic inability to fall asleep, i.e., Insomnia over time

Are there any aids I could use if struggling with Student Insomnia?

Over-the-counter Sleep Aids are available for temporary relief but should be used carefully due to potential dependency; professional advice from specialists at Sleep Centers would be beneficial before taking them regularly.

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