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Sleep and Academic Performance

Posted by Jessica Gramlich on Nov 13, 2015 10:00:00 AM

VetPrep-kittensleepingWhether you are approaching your NAVLE or upcoming finals week, if you are a vet student then you know the temptation to start pulling all nighters and forgoing good sleep habits.  I understand the appeal of squeezing in a few more hours of studying.  When you are in classes or clinics all day you are under a lot of stress. Maybe you have a part-time job or perhaps some intense at-home responsibilities too, it can be hard to feel like you have put in enough time to prepare for your tests.  It’s a TRAP! Don’t fall for it, healthy sleep is important. REALLY IMPORTANT. Don’t sacrifice your sleep and here is why.

Lack of sleep will adversely affect your academic performance.  Research shows that students with sleeping disorders are more likely to have poor grades and a lower GPA.  It’s not just your grades that suffer, avoiding a full night’s sleep can also affect your mental health.

The following 7 tips are provided by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to help students get the most out of their sleep:

Get yourself to bed early 

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  That’s pretty easy math for someone who is about to be a doctor, if you have to get up at 6am, go to bed at 10pm the night before.

Don’t linger in your bed

If you have trouble falling asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Use your bed for sleeping only Along the same lines as the tip above, don’t study, read, watch TV or talk on the phone in bed. Only use your bed for sleep.

Try to avoid naps

I fell into this trap big time when I was in vet school.  Napping can set you up for a perpetual difficulty falling asleep issue.  If you take a long nap in the early evening, then you will have trouble falling asleep and stay up later than normal and then you don’t sleep enough and then you wake up tired and have yourself a nap the next day.  Boom, you are now in a cycle of sleep dysfunction. If you take a nap, then keep it brief. Nap for less than an hour and before 3 p.m.

Try to stick to a schedule

It is best to go to bed and wake up at the same times on the weekend as you do during the school week. If you missed out on a lot of sleep during the week, then you can try to catch up on the weekend but researchers recommend sleeping in no more than 1 hour later than normal. The reason is that sleeping in later on Saturdays and Sundays will make it very hard for you to wake up for classes on Monday morning.

Limit caffeine intake 

Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and at night. It stays in your system for hours and can make it harder for you to fall asleep.

Power down as you get close to bedtime

Dim the lights in the evening so your body knows it will soon be time to sleep.  Avoid screen time just before bed as well.  The bright light on your phone tricks your melatonin levels into wanting to staying awake.

Eat a small amount

You want to avoid a large meal right before bedtime. However, feel free to enjoy a light snack so you don’t go to bed hungry.

There are sleep specialists available, if you believe that you have a sleep disorder you should consult your primary care physician for more information.

How to Land Your Dream Job

How to find your Vet Dream JobThey say getting in is the hardest part.

“They” don’t know how challenging vet school can be.

But you are in the middle of it and you know that it is very difficult; lots of late nights studying, worrying about your patients, mountains of debt, a giant board exam to pass prior to graduation and then, oh yeah, I guess you should think about getting a job too.

We put together a list of what you should be considering when looking for that DREAM JOB:

  • Know what Employers are Seeking in a Vet
  • The Top Tips for Finding a Job
  • Tips for the Interview
  • ...and more!

Download Dream Job Guide  How to Land Your Dream Job after Vet School

Topics: Stress Management, Health & Wellness

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