Sleep Hygiene for Student Health

Jean posing outside on Rowan's campus.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanUWellness on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. This story is by Jean Coricone, an MA in School Psychology program graduate student. 

Being on a college campus, it is common to see classmates and friends struggling to stay awake in classes and chugging caffeine to get through the day, only to stay up all night and repeat the cycle day after day. Or we have all been that friend or classmate at some point, and prayed for a night’s sleep that would be recharging and peaceful.

There is a way to achieve rest to recharge you and set you up for a day that’s filled with energy rather than caffeine and mid-day naps. The key factor in a good night’s sleep is making sure you are practicing good sleep hygiene. In the same way you would brush your teeth, shower, and wear deodorant to practice good hygiene, there are steps to take to make sure your sleep is also hygienic.

Jean stands under a rock art sculpture on campus, smiling.

Sleep hygiene is defined as “having both a bedroom environment and daily routines that promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and building healthy habits during the day”(Suni,2022).  There are ways to implement these routines throughout the day as well as at night to ensure healthy sleep habits. Some of these habits include regular activity throughout the day, reducing alcohol consumption, monitoring caffeine intake during the afternoon and evenings, and being mindful of late-night dining. Late-night dining can affect sleep quality because if the meal is heavy, big, or spicy, digesting it can make it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Another common factor of poor sleep hygiene is using beds for activities other than sleep and sex (Suni,2022). The mind creates a link between being in bed and sleeping. If a bed is used to sleep, eat, do homework, and more, the mind will not link it to sleep anymore. This makes it more difficult to unwind in bed at night to fall asleep. 

Making a bedroom a comfortable peaceful space is also a great way to help create a more hygienic environment for sleeping. Having a mattress and pillow that is comfortable is key. As well as having a comfortable bed, it is just as important to have the room set to a temperature that is comfortable and try using sound machines or aroma scents such as lavender.  In addition to these things, giving yourself 30 minutes to wind down before bed can help with sleep. Winding down includes listening to calming music, unplugging from electronic devices, and dimming the lights. This sets up a peaceful environment that will be helpful for sleep.

Sleep hygiene is just as important as any other form of hygiene and should be treated as so. It is also important to remember that sleep hygiene can look and work differently for everyone, making it crucial to try different techniques and use what works best for each individual.

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Story by:

Jean Coricone, Rowan Global/Graduate student in MA in School Psychology Program, Wellness Center intern

Edited by: Jordyn Dauter, junior dance & elementary education double major