When in University, it can become difficult to juggle a busy social life with a successful academic life. When this is the case, sleep can often take a back seat. The amount of rest and sleep we get affects our mood, appearance and our ability to effectively study, work and concentrate.  

Generally, adults need between 6 and 9 hours sleep a night, with an average ideal being roughly 8 hours. Sleep issues may include: 

  • Waking up too early (and not being able to get back to sleep) 

  • Difficulty falling asleep 

  • Fidgeting and restlessness in sleep  

Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, is very common. There are a range of potential causes and these often overlap. Causes include: 

  • External factors such as light, noise and temperature 

  • Somatic factors like pain, breathlessness, needing to go to the toilet 

  • Physiological disturbances such as doing shift work or experiencing jetlag 

  • Psychological factors such as stress (through exams, relationships, finances), bereavement, anxiety, depression 

  • Effects of substances like caffeine, alcohol, recreational drugs or prescribed medications 

  • Medical disorders 

There are many simple solutions that can contribute to a much more restful, easy sleep . . . 

Comfort – keeping your bed made, your sheets clean and having a good quality pillow is a good start.  

Eating or drinking too much before bed - A small snack or herbal tea will help you to relax and prevent you from feeling pangs of hunger before you try to drift off.  

Screen time - Using a bright screen on a phone or laptop, especially in a dark room, does influence how you fall asleep. Instead of watching something on your laptop or texting, try reading a book before sleeping.  

Overthinking - If you find yourself overthinking at night, try writing your concerns down on a piece of paper. Having written them, and decided to deal with them in the morning, you will either realize that there is no problem there really, or that it is something that you will be in a much better position to work on tomorrow. 

If you are suffering from insomnia that is unrelenting, despite all your efforts, it is recommended that you consult your GP or the Student Health Unit  before it takes too much of a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. 

Why not listen to a podcast on Sleep Well, Study Well by Noirín Mannion, Mental Health Worker with the Student Health Unit.