UT University Health Services


Receiving an average of 8 hours of quality sleep per night is an important part of overall health and academic success. The benefits of sufficient sleep are numerous, especially for students, as sleep is essential for increased memory consolidation, learning, decision making, and critical thinking. Studies show that students who receive 7-9 hours of sleep had higher grade point averages than students who didn’t get 7-9 hours of sleep regularly (Yu & Arendt, 2017).

What happens when you sleep.
Memories are consolidated and stored (necessary for learning).
Ability to concentrate and pay attention is restored.
Muscles repair and recover.
Metabolism is regulated.
Maintain better mental health and physical health.
What happens when you don’t sleep.
Judgment and concentration are impaired.
Release of more appetite stimulating hormones that can consequently result in weight gain.
Immune system is suppressed and increases risk of illness.
Emotions are heightened, causing irritability, anger, and or anxiety.
Reaction time is slowed and more accidents occur.

The ABCs of Catching ZZZs

Avoid or minimize use of stimulants and depressants such as caffeine, nicotine, sugar and alcohol as they disrupt your normal sleep cycle.

Beds are only for sleep and sex. Avoid studying, watching TV, and using other technology in bed.

Cue your body to sleep with a dark, comfortable, relaxing and quiet environment. Try using an eye mask, ear plugs, a noise machine, essential oils and/or a small fan to set the perfect atmosphere!

Don't stay in bed tossing and turning more than 30 minutes. Get out of bed and try a relaxing activity like yoga or light stretching, reading or meditating before returning to bed.

Exercise regularly, but avoid working out in the 3 hours before bedtime as hormones secreted during a moderate/rigorous workout can increase alertness.

Friends can wait- don't stay up if you don't want to.

Get 7-9 hours per night, and supplement with 20-30 minute naps before 4 p.m. to stay refreshed.

Hydrate with 64 oz of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids and incorporate a variety of foods into your diet every day.

Initiate a regular bedtime routine. You can cue your body to sleep by drinking a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea, washing your face, brushing your teeth, or jotting down a list of things to do or reflections from the day.

Jump start your day at the same time (or as close as possible) everyday! Our bodies crave a regular schedule so having a consistent bed and wake time leads to better, more restful sleep.

Keep your phone, laptop and tablet away from your bed and discontinue use at least 30 min before bedtime. Blue light emitted from electronics inhibits your body’s production of melatonin which cues sleep.

sleep super hero

Common Misconceptions about Sleep

  1. Caffeine and other stimulants help me push through that last hour of work, but it won't affect my sleep later. It's true that stimulants may help you stay awake or alert for a given amount of time, but the substances stay in your body long after that initial jolt. If you drink a 12 oz. soda at 7pm, 50% of the caffeine will still be in your system at 11pm.
  2. Alcohol will help me sleep. While alcohol consumption may initially help some people fall asleep, it interferes with a restful night's sleep by interrupting the sleep cycle and increases the number of times you will wake up during the night. Passing out is not the same as going to sleep.
  3. I can "catch up" on sleep on the weekends. While weekends offer opportunity for a few extra hours for zzzz's (especially if you've stayed up later than usual), try to keep your weekend wake time within an hour or two of your weekday wake time. If you’re feeling tired during the day due to lack of nighttime sleep, we recommend scheduling a nap in the early afternoon. Check out our Nap Map for some student-vetted on-campus options!
  4. If I sleep, I'm missing out on valuable study time. Planning ahead can help you avoid all-nighters. In fact, getting 8 hours of sleep the night before a test has been shown in studies to be more beneficial to actual test performance than staying up all night to study. Visit the Sanger Learning Center to find help with time management.

Should I seek help?

Schedule an appointment with UHS, CMHC or another healthcare provider if you experience any of the following problems:

  • Your sleep problems interfere with school, work, or relationships with friends or family.
  • You rely on sleep aids or alcohol to make you sleep or on amphetamines or stimulants to keep you alert.
  • You have depression, chronic anxiety, pain, a change in medication, or any other condition that may affect your sleep.
  • You snore heavily or stop breathing at intervals during the night, often starting again with a gasp. If your roommate, spouse, or partner complains about your snoring.

Helpful Links

Nap Map
Sleeping Better
Virginia Tech Schiffert Health Center "Sleeping Well"
The National Sleep Foundation
The Science of Sleep CBS 60 Minutes

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