Feeling tired throughout the day? Having difficulty falling or staying asleep? Having trouble balancing work with getting adequate rest? Sleeping too much? You are not alone!

Every year, many students at Emory and across the country report sleep challenges. Problems with sleep can feel very overwhelming and stressful. They can also be an indicator of some mental health concerns (e.g. depression, anxiety, insomnia) or physical health concerns (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 7-9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health and functioning. Below are several resources to help improve your sleep.

We all have heard that sleep is extremely important, but do you know why? Restorative sleep improves our physical health, mental health, memory, and performance. It can be easy to compromise on sleep due to various tasks and responsibilities; however, sleep deprivation can:

  • Negatively impact our immune system
  • Increase our risk for depression, anxiety or stress
  • Reduce our focus and concentration in class
  • Limit our performance on tests or with sports

In fact, quality sleep can help us work more efficiently to conquer our daily activities!

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One key strategy to address sleep concerns is building healthy sleeping habitsbuilding healthy sleeping habits. This is an important aspect of self-care. Try these sleep hygiene tips to improve your sleep:

Tip 1: Go to bed and get up at the same times each day

If you are struggling to fall asleep at night, try focusing on having a regular time each day that you get up. Yes, that means getting up at same time on the weekends and the weekdays. Having a regular awake time will help you set a regular bed time. If you find yourself pressing snooze too often, try moving your alarm clock away from your bed, so that you need to physically get up to shut it off.

Tip 2: Don’t eat or drink too much when it is close to bedtime

If you find yourself hungry before bed, try having a light snack. Having a large meal before bed can signal to our body that it is time to be awake. In addition, limit alcohol use before bed. While alcohol may make you feel drowsy, it actually can cause you to get poor quality sleep. Alcohol can reduce REM sleep and lead to more sleep disruptions.

Tip 3: If you take names keep them short and before 5pm

Napping too close to bed time and/or for more than 20–30 minutes can lead to difficulty falling asleep at night. Remember to set an alarm to get up from your nap!

Tip 4: Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise can help us improve our sleep. However, if you generally struggle with falling asleep, try not to exercise too close to bedtime.

Tip 5: Develop rituals to wind down before going to bed

Having relaxing rituals such as reading a good book, listening to music, taking a shower/bath, or journaling can help us feel calmer and signal to our brain that it is time to rest. Shutoff screens about an hour before bed. The light from our screens can trick our brains into thinking that it is daytime and disrupt the secretion of melatonin – the hormone that causes us to feel sleepy.

Tip 6: Keep the bedroom a relaxing place

Sleep is a biological behavior, but it is also a learned behavior when it comes to falling asleep easily. Make sure to use your bed for sleep and sex only. That way, you train your brain to associate your bed with sleep and not with studying or watching TV.

Tip 7: Go to bed in a dark, quiet room that isn’t too hot or too cold

Create an environment that promotes sleep. Sleep science says that your sleep environment should be like a cave: dark, chilly, and quiet.

Tip 8: Don’t lie in bed awake

If you find yourself worrying in bed, get up and worry somewhere else. Return to bed when you feel drowsy again. This can help prevent our brain from associating our bed with a place to worry. In addition, don’t check the clock to see how much time you have left to sleep – there is never a goodtime to be awake late at night! When we fear that we won’t get enough sleep, it is harder to fall asleep.

Sleep Diary

Completing a sleep diary can be very helpful in recording your sleep patterns each night and noting potential factors affecting sleep. These logs can help to see if there are: inconsistencies with your bedtime or wake times, potential issues in your sleep environment that are affecting quality of sleep (e.g. temperature, lighting, noise levels, comfort of your bed), and how other activities before bed are negatively affecting your rest. 

Mindfulness and Relaxation Activities

Life can be overwhelming at times which can have an impact on sleep. Thankfully, there are several mindfulness and relaxation activities that can help reduce stress, anxiety, and improve sleep.

  • Deep breathing is our body’s natural reset button which can help promote relaxation before bed. Try doing the 4-3-4 technique by inhaling for four seconds, holding for three seconds, and then exhaling for four seconds.
  • Try guided imagery activities which are narrated audio clips that walk you through peaceful environments such as: forests, beaches, or spaces that have special meaning to you.
  • Listen to the sounds of nature that are occurring around you, which offer soothing sounds to promote rest and relaxation.

Soothing Audio for Sleep (YouTube Videos)

Rain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIQd2Ya0Ziw

Fireplace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8qd0Fyobpc&list=PLgdxvG3UlbicrSRyfcSWtCCzxFEO4p7hZ

Beach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VckixVHLBwY&list=PLgdxvG3UlbicrSRyfcSWtCCzxFEO4p7hZ&index=7

Popular Sleep Apps

Looking for apps that include several relaxation activities to help with sleep, stress, and anxiety? Below are three of the most popular apps for college students due to their wide range of activities and user-friendly interfaces. They include many of the relaxation activities mentioned previously so you conveniently have access to them in a central place:

https://www.calm.com/

https://www.headspace.com/

https://www.noisli.com/

The Better Sleep Council: https://bettersleep.org/

The National Sleep Foundation: https://www.thensf.org/

Contact and Hours of Operation

Address: 1462 Clifton Road, Suite 235, Atlanta, GA 30322
Phone: (404) 727-7450
Fax: (404) 727-2906
Crisis Consultation: Call (404) 727-7450, 8:30-3:30, Monday-Friday
Hours of Operation: 8:30-5:00, Monday-Friday

PLEASE NOTE: If Emory University is closed due to weather or other emergency, then CAPS is also closed. In such circumstances, students will be contacted to reschedule appointments once the university reopens.