Being a full-time college student will invariably be an intense and exciting time in your life. If you play your cards right and seize all the opportunities that college has to offer then you will be running around taking plenty of challenging courses, exercising regularly in competitive sports or working out on your own, you will be getting involved in fun and stimulating extracurricular activities, all while maintaining an active social life. This is what college is about, making the most of this fantastic opportunity for personal growth! However, any growth, be it physical or intellectual, requires a lot of energy and the use of a lot of energy requires proper, sufficient and effective rest. Have you ever noticed how many naps newborn babies take every day? They may look like they are not doing much while napping but in reality their growing brains are creating millions of synaptic connections and making sense of all the new images, sounds and sensations they’ve been exposed to during their waking hours. Likewise, their little bodies are busily laying down and lengthening bones while strengthening muscles and maturing other tissues.
Believe it or not, a young adult in college experiences a very similar process of rapid development! Your college courses will be dispensing a huge volume of new information you will be expected to assimilate and master during exam time. Your body will be repairing the microscopic tears that naturally occur in your muscles during your workouts, and your brain will be juggling all the new knowledge with all the other aspects of your life such as whether you should ask out that new student in your class or what plans you have for spring break. All of this hectic brain and body activity requires plenty of proper and quality rest, something which may be the last thing in your mind.
Although most of us have heard that we need 8 hours of sleep a night, reality is a little more interesting than that. Each one of us is a little different and the sooner you figure out what sort of sleeper you are the sooner you will be making the most of your days and nights. Some of us get our optimal rest with 6 hours of sleep while others are in the 9-hour range. The only way to reliably find out which type you are is to establish a regular bed time (7 days a week) and sleep plenty (7-9 hours a night), for a few weeks. Soon you will notice that you wake up spontaneously (without the dreaded alarm clock!) and surprisingly refreshed after a given number of hours. If this keeps happening after 7 hours or so, then that is your magic number.