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The importance of 'sleep hygiene'

“Sleep hygiene is really underrated,” says Dr. Betsy Smith, director ofcounselling at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. “If you getinto a cycle of staying up late and sleeping late, that can lead toreal problems.”

“Sleep hygiene is really underrated,” says Dr. Betsy Smith, director of counselling at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. “If you get into a cycle of staying up late and sleeping late, that can lead to real problems.”

Creating a steady, restful sleep pattern might be the simplest thing you can do to improve your spring semester.

“There’s a number of contributing factors at the end of the fall semester. As you get closer to going home and having to report on how you’re doing, the stress can go way up,” says Dr. Carolyn Kaufman, a psychologist at Columbus State Community College. “Plus the light changes a lot at the end of the fall. Suddenly, you’re not getting enough light, and your coping skills are knocked down a notch.”

A recent study featured in the medical journal Sleep and Breathing went even further. Focusing on students at Montgomery College in Maryland, researchers looked not just at the amount of sleep, but also the wakeup times, of the students. They found that students who rise earlier have better GPAs.

But that might not be the answer for everybody, especially students in the arts. “There’s research that suggests that creative people tend to be night people,” says Kaufman. “If they get themselves up earlier, they’re not more productive, because they’re missing their best hours. … It’s better to create a consistent pattern.”

Winter blues

Psychologists associate seasonal affective disorder with increased levels of melatonin, caused by a drastic reduction of natural light. This can lead to an unbalanced sleep schedule.

 
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