External Factors That Impact Sleep for College Students

College is a hectic time in a person’s life. In fact, between classes, homework, friends, and extracurricular activities, there never even seems to be enough time for a break. This is why it’s so crucial that you’re finding ways to get an optimal amount of sleep. These are a few common external factors that impact sleep for college students and how you can mitigate them in your own environment.

Light Levels

Light is one of the main factors that prevent our brains from fully drifting off. Our circadian rhythm, or internal sleep cycle, correlates directly to the amount of light our eyes perceive. Additional light in your environment tricks your brain into believing that it’s day time, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. For this reason, consider installing a layer of curtains over your window or wearing a sleep mask when you go to bed to block out extra light.


Sound can also keep us from successfully falling asleep because it disrupts our thought processes and distracts us from physical relaxation. This is especially the case for sudden, loud noises, as they tend to startle us out of our drowsiness. As such, it’s important to limit the amount of ambient sound you allow in the room. While it’s impossible to eliminate it entirely, and some even prefer a bit of static sound for sleeping, the key is to keep the volume to a minimum.

Mattress Quality

Another external factor that impacts sleep is the quality of your mattress. Dorm beds aren’t known for their comfort, to begin with, so it’s common for students to have to experiment with ways to better optimize that space for relaxation. Fortunately, there are several effective techniques for making a dorm bed more comfortable, such as purchasing high-quality sheets or using a thick mattress topper.

Environment Temperature

Make sure that you’re considering the temperature in the room, as well, when it comes time to go to bed. Though our bodies run at 97 or 98 degrees during the day, this internal temperature drops when we fall asleep. This drop is to make us more comfortable under the sheets and conserve energy. As a result, cooler rooms tend to provide better quality sleep, while warm rooms leave us tossing and turning.


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