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Tips for College Insomnia

I always had a problem with waking up in the morning, but never really had any with falling asleep when I was a kid and even when I was in high school. That kind of changed after going to college. I used to toss and turn in the night for long time before falling to sleep (sometimes thanks to my roommate and her boyfriend). I still had difficulty with waking up in the morning (the problem aggravated because of my sleeplessness). I was frustrated and on the verge of taking medication. That’s when I started talking to my friends and acquaintances. I was surprised to know that many of them also have a problem with sleeping. That was when I started to change my college habits and tried to eliminate the cause of my college insomnia, which was stress.



College sleepless can be caused by many reasons. While stress and stimulants remain the top culprits, eating and lifestyle habits also determine how effectively your body functions. Cultivating healthy long term lifestyle habits such as eating healthy and exercising regularly is the best way to get rid of insomnia. This process takes time, requires you to have determination and put in effort. So, it is always a good idea to look for fast natural remedies that can help you sleep well in the mean time. Here are a few quick tips to combat stress and get better sleep at night:


  1. Exercising - Physical activity stimulates brain to release feel good hormones called endorphins. These are more powerful than morphine in their sedating effect. Involving yourself in some kind of exercise 3 to 4 hours before bedtime is very effective in battling sleeplessness. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can run on a treadmill in your university gym or perform some body weight exercises like squats in your room. Exercise also boosts blood and lymph circulation throughout the body and to the brain. You can relax and reduce your stress into the productive way to sleep better at night through moving your body.
  2. Aroma therapy - Chamomile and lavender essential oils smell divine and can relax your mind and hence your body. Sprinkle a few drops of chamomile on your pillow or on cotton balls and place them beside your pillow to doze off into a pleasant sleep.
  3. Meditation - This is my favorite technique because it’s simple and very effective. You need to be able calm your thoughts to reduce stress and relax. Spend a few minutes to blank your mind every night before going to bed. If you are new to meditating, use essential oils to first relax.
  4. Music - Hearing to pleasant meditation music is very healing. I play my list of songs whenever I feel tensed and not just to sleep at night. According to many studies, calming music does wonders on the brain and body. 
  5. Essential salts - If you are living off-campus and have your own bath tub, you should definitely consider treating yourself with bubble baths. Put some Epsom salts into your bath water and soak in it for a half-hour to relax your muscles and boost blood circulation.
  6. Say no to coffee or alcohol - Many college kids go to parties and drink alcohol at night, which is not good idea for sleep as alcohol can dehydrate the body. Some drink excessive amount coffee in the evening while studying. Stay from coffee as caffeine is a nervous system stimulant. Taking in stimulants do nothing to help with falling asleep.
  7. Stay away from oily greasy food - This goes without saying because you can’t go to sleep with an upset stomach.



rachelsholiday's picture

One suggestion

These are all really excellent tips, thank you!  One change I would make would be to number seven.  In general, it’s good to stay away from greasy foods, but they do not bother the stomachs of some people.  It may be better to say “Stay away from foods that upset your stomach.”

Another thing I've found helpful to battling insomnia is to have a bed time routine, even on the weekends.  That’s not to say that you have to start getting ready for bed 3-4 hours before you actually want to go to sleep.  But perhaps getting ready about an hour before you want to go to bed is a good idea.  If you know you sleep better in a made bed (I know I do) and you haven’t had time to make your bed that day, maybe that should be part of your routine. 

If your landlord (and roommate) allows it, start making your apartment smell like something that will make you sleepy.  Lavender is a natural sleep aid, and incense that smells like it will help you to calm down.  Assuming you haven’t been drinking alcohol in the last hour, have some sleepy-time tea.  It really works wonders on helping you to sleep.

Tomochka's picture

chamomile works wonders too

I guess, my post goes out to all who cannot give up on coffee, haha. I find it hard to wake up without a cup of a good coffee, and I have a habit of having another one right before I work out. I know, there are some debates going on about whether coffee is a good or bad thing before exercising, but for me, it is perfect (I have a low blood pressure, so it is kind of a medicine for me in a way, it also acts as a mild anesthetic, so I like it. Do not drink it too much if your bp is high, though, or you have other health issues). Well, my gym membership is 24/7 one, so often times I am there on a treadmill or lifting weights pretty late at night. I come home pumped and energized (once a week, as if today I have a yoga class also late), so sometimes this extra boost of energy helps me do my homework, but if I do not have all that much, I definitely find myself having hard time to fall asleep. A secret to actually getting into sleeping? Chamomile tea! (being a married woman, I must also add sex, but I realize that not everyone has that option available.) So, it is a natural relaxation agent, chamomile tea costs 90 cents at any grocery store. I like it with a little bit of honey, and one cup is enough to calm me down and have a good night’s sleep.

shelbymary's picture

Love this!

I loved reading this! I definitely have trouble with insomnia while in college; it seems like there is never enough time in the day for relaxing, and I tend to spend a lot of extra time just staying up at night doing nothing because I'm not tired, regardless of what time I have to wake up in the morning. However, I've begun exercising more regularly as of recently, and it's definitely helped me to stay on top of my sleep habits. I usually go to my on-campus gym before dinner with some friends, and it's really helped me not only feel great about myself, but to get myself in more of a routine, which helps a lot with my sleep! Eating right has also helped me a lot too!

I also like the idea of listening to calming music; I try to do this pretty often at night, but I think I should look into some music that is specified for sleeping.

The one that is the toughest for me is coffee and alcohol; I definitely like my fair share of both! I drink every weekend, and tend to drink coffee every morning, sometimes even in the afternoon or late at night! I think I'm going to start swapping my coffee for tea and cutting back on my drinking on the weekends.

Thanks for highlighting all these great ideas!

PYETwentyTwelve's picture

Great list!

Have you ever thought about taking a nap during the day in between classes, say you had a couple of hours to spare, not thinking about homework or anything else and when you get back to your apartment or dorm, why not close all your window shades, turn off lights and put a do not disturb sign on your door and get in some serious sleeping.  Even if you don't actually get in a nap, at least you can have some quiet time and try not to think about what you need to get done, that will defeat the purpose of resting on your mind and body.

The one thing that I didn't make a priority was to get enough of sleep or rest, I was always on the go and not sleeping wreaked a lot of havoc on my life for a long time, just making a conscious effort to take care of "you" is what you need to do, don't make any excuses just set aside nap time everyday or every other day and that means no cell phone, computer or television during your nap time. 

Reading seems to be a good anecdote to get those eyelids to drop and help with the sleeping process, you can read your favorite magazine too.  Just carve out time for yourself and make it a regular event and a good habit even after you finish college.


iracquel's picture

These are great tips you

These are great tips you have! I should definitely try them out since insomnia attacked me since my first semester in college. It's a pity that I go to bed at 4:00 am and sometimes at 6:00 am when I have class at 9:00 am in the morning. Somehow, I do make it to class, and I manage not to fall asleep in class (amazingly! ), but I definitely know that it is unhealthy, and it may cause problems for me in the future.

Other than the tips mentioned in the article, I was advised that taking a bath before going to bed does induce sleep. I don't know the science behind that, but my friend swears that it makes can make me sleep as soon as I get to bed. I'm thinking of trying that too because my sleeping pattern is not in the slightest bit normal. But I do think that unless it is a condition that can be controlled, seeking medication should be your last option. Medication has the potential of making people dependent such that your body will be trained to respond to the medication alone and nothing else. Natural is the way to go. Practicing sleeping habits and building on it will yield good results in for all the insomniacs out there, I feel you...let's face this head on! :)

navyatha's picture

Thanks guys for your

Thanks guys for your insightful and wonderful comments. Cheers :)

Kassandra1408's picture

Sleep tips

Fantastic tips! Thanks for sharing.

I’ve dealt with insomnia in high school, and I was a nervous wreck. I tried natural remedies, sleeping pills and everything in between. I know how difficult it can get, and how hard it is to stay in shape while dealing with it.

I have a few simple tips that might or might not work; still, they can’t do any harm. Have you tried taking a hot shower before going to bed? It helps relax the muscles and you can wash away the troubles accumulated during the day.

Or how about a glass of warm milk half an hour before going to bed? It’s been proven to lessen stress and relax you, getting you ready for a peaceful night. I prefer herbal teas, since I can’t stand milk. They taste funny at first, but you can add honey or vanilla essence to make it tastier.

If you find it difficult to fall asleep, you know that every noise gets your attention. It’s about high time you invest in a pair of earplugs, and start counting sheep. The earplugs will also come in handy during your study sessions, so go for it.

But if you really can’t fall asleep, don’t just sit there and wait. It’s counterproductive and it will make you nervous, Try reading instead. TV will stimulate you too much, so do avoid it. Also make sure that the room is cool enough to be comfortable.

I hope this helps too. Have sweet dreams!

ami19877's picture

Tips to help you sleep

As tempting as the internet is, try to stay away from the computer late at night. Surfing the net or flipping through channels to help you fall asleep can actually make it harder for your body to get to sleep.

Don't drink coffee in the afternoon or later. If you miss your morning cup, don't make another one later. Even if you get tired, drinking caffeine in the afternoon can only lead to sleeplessness later.

If you can't sleep, try making a cup of chamomile tea. If you don't have or don't like chamomile tea, any herbal (non caffeinated) tea you have can also work. You can also drink a cup of warm milk. I like to have a cup of hot milk with a graham cracker or two.

Calming music really helps. If you can, you should find music for deep meditation. Even if you don't meditate, it's very relaxing. Any calming music you use to help you fall asleep should only be used to help you sleep. If you use it during other times, it won't be connected with just sleep in your mind, and it won't be as effective.

Breathe deeply as you lay in bed. It sounds simple, but it really helps. Lay still and breathe in as deeply as you can. Then, release it as much as you can. Do this a few times, and you will be amazed at how relaxed you feel.

ShadaeDillard's picture


Insomnia and I are best friends ...sadly ...But what I found helps me is tea. Any kind of tea, I just warm it up, and it helps me to stay asleep..I have to stay away from energy drinks, coffee,chocolate, greasy foods, and all because I don't get sleep with eating those or even close to sleeping. Sometimes I just read till I fall asleep, a book that I have no interest in. Or look at really boring movies. 

Staying away from coffee, gets my tired half way through the day which is pretty sad, but it's better than being wired up through out the day, I like to also try hot chocolate, or warm soy milk it helps to get me in the mood for bed, praying,/meditating -whatever is your cup of tea can help as well, just depends on the type of person you are.

aarronabel's picture

Hi Nabyatha,Informative tips

Hi Nabyatha,

Informative tips on college insomnia and like to add to deal with insomnia exercise regulalry and watch what you eat. Be modest about food and drinks and avoid alcohol, smoking and caffeine. Avoid over sleeping or taking naps in day timing. Avoid eating shortly before going to bed and eat only a light snack before bedtime, if hungry.