5 Issues That Can Worsen Insomnia at College

Statistics show that mental health problems are rising amongst college students. While there are many factors that influence mental health, there’s one thing that’s sure to make everything worse: not getting enough sleep.

Unfortunately, college is full of issues that can cause or worsen insomnia, leading to a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation, stress, and mental ill health. Being aware of the potential problems is the first step towards solving them, so keep reading for details on some of the most common issues facing students.

1. Not Sticking to a Bedtime Routine

College often throws your usual routine completely out of the window, and this can be disastrous for your sleeping pattern.

When you go to bed at 9pm one night, then roll in from a party at 3am the next night, your body doesn’t know what to think. Your internal clock is thrown out of whack, and you’re likely to feel tired during the day and struggle to fall asleep at night.

Putting together a strict sleep schedule and sticking to it religiously is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. For example, you could plan to be in bed by 11pm each night, and awake by 7am each morning. While it might be hard to adjust at first, you’ll soon feel the benefits of a regular sleeping pattern.

2. Having Noisy Roommates

Whether you love or hate your new roommates, there’s a good chance they’re causing some level of noise at night. Whether it’s wild parties in the kitchen, experimental jazz in the bedroom, or an incessant cough, roommate noise can seriously mess up your sleeping habits.

If the problem is something your roommate has control over, it’s definitely worth discussing with them. They may not even realize they’re bothering you, so opening up communication might be all it takes to solve the problem. If that doesn’t work, consider talking to the resident assistant and asking for help. They’ll be able to mediate between you, or could authorize a change of room.

If all else fails, try investing in a pair of earplugs to wear while sleeping. Combined with a sleep mask, it’ll be like your roommate isn’t even in the room.

3. Drinking Alcohol Before Bed

We all know that college can involve lots of partying, but it’s wise to think twice about drinking before bed – especially if you have a history of insomnia.

While you might feel as though alcohol makes it easier to fall asleep, the opposite is true. Alcohol before bed can interrupt your circadian rhythm, prevent important REM sleep, and contribute to nocturnal breathing problems. Many cocktails also include energy drinks, and the high levels of caffeine can further contribute to sleep issues.

You don’t have to stop drinking altogether, but it’s wise to limit how much alcohol you consume and stop drinking at least a few hours before you plan to go to sleep. Never use alcohol as a way to self-medicate insomnia.

4. Sleeping on an Uncomfortable Mattress

Just moved into your new dorm room and started struggling to fall asleep? The problem could be with your mattress.

Most college dorms aren’t equipped with the most high-end furnishings, and your mattress is no exception. A poor-quality mattress could contribute to back pain and joint soreness, which are likely to keep you awake. Allergens present in the mattress might trigger allergies or asthma, which make it really hard to get a good night’s rest.

If you suspect that your mattress might be the source of the problem, it’s worth investing in a high-quality, comfortable mattress of your own. If that’s too expensive, even a memory foam topper could help.

5. Using Technology Right Before Bed

Tempted to check your school email just before bed? Or just want to keep up with your friends from back home on social media? No matter what you’re doing, using technology before bed is bound to affect your sleep. The bright light emitted by screens tricks the body into thinking it’s time to wake up, and browsing lots of different content is overstimulating for the brain.

Try to switch bedtime browsing for an activity like reading, coloring, or writing. If that’s not possible, at least download a blue light filter for your phone or computer – this makes the display warmer and dimmer, helping you to wind down.

Getting enough sleep is essential if you want to maintain good mental health at college. Watch out for the common issues above to ensure you can solve any sleep problems the moment they arise.


Photo by Yingchou Han on Unsplash