Creating a Summer Sleep Schedule
July is smiling (laughing) at us with the scorching fury of a West Texas summer.
July brings the Summer II semester. This may mean a new class schedule, which could necessitate a new work schedule. Or you may work full time in June and July to save money for the fall semester, but your shift is always changing. You may ask the question, “How do I maintain routine with an ever-evolving schedule?”
My answer: You adapt by creating a new routine for your new schedule. I encourage you to review the previously published posts on the Navigating Higher Ed blog: Prepare for a Fresh Start by Martina Dalla Zanna; Get Back into a Routine, Organizing for College Success and Juggling School and a Job, all by Allison Price; and There’s an App for That by Riley Mashburn. The authors present practical ideas for adjusting to a new routine, organizing, scheduling, managing time, etc.
For this post, I will emphasize the importance of sleep for maintaining your health and ability to do the work required of you. You can read why sleep is important and what happens when you don’t get enough on this American Psychological Association page.
“While you sleep, your brain is hard at work forming the pathways necessary for learning and creating memories and new insights. Without enough sleep, you can’t focus and pay attention or respond quickly. A lack of sleep may even cause mood problems. Growing evidence shows that a chronic lack of sleep can also increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infections.”
—“The Importance of Sleep,” The National Institute of Health MedlinePlus
Recently I watched the movie “Gone Girl.” (This may seem totally unrelated and random, but I promise I have an on-topic point.) During one scene, the twins Nick (Ben Affleck) and Margo (Carrie Coon) were supporting each other during a life crisis. As Margo walked to her bedroom, she said something like, “I’m going to go Benadryl myself to sleep.” I love that line! I imagine many can relate.
If you are wondering, however, if you need an over-the-counter sleep aid or prescription to get your sleep back on track, please talk to your primary care physician or a medical practitioner here at the ASU Health Clinic.
When life circumstances change, when schedule and routine are interrupted, when stress rises, it’s common to have difficulty sleeping. The ASU Health Clinic nurses and counselors can assist in developing cognitive and behavioral changes that can improve sleep.
My sleep tip for July: create an optimal sleeping environment.
My Dalmatian, Sergeant, understands this concept. This picture was taken during a vacation and Sarge did not like his travel bed. During the night, he convinced my daughter to take his bed so that he could sprawl in her more comfortable spot.
You can follow Sarge’s example and create a haven for sleep. If needed, buy a mattress topper, pillow, blanket and/or sheets to make your bed more comfortable.
If your schedule requires you to sleep at varying times, I recommend buying blackout curtains. I spoke with ASU’s Housing and Residential Programs office and you are allowed to hang curtains with tension rods in the dorm rooms. Tension rods are perfect because they are easy to hang and inexpensive — as low as $4.
I have also found room darkening curtains for reasonable prices. For example, I purchased an insulated Roman-style shade that was originally $45 for $12.03 through Amazon.com. Amazon offers reduced prices if you purchase returned items or items in damaged packaging. I have also found blackout curtain panels at Target for $9.
A comfy space that is dark can greatly improve sleep quality and allow you to sleep even when your routine changes. A bonus is that blackout curtains keep the heat of July at bay.
Offer the July sun a smile as you close your window coverings in your cool, dark space and fall into a peaceful slumber. Dream of a successfully completed semester and cooler days ahead.