Battle Sleepy Days with Tips from Students Who’ve Been There

Homework, Jobs and Midterms Quickly Fill Up Schedules, Making Lack of Sleep a Common Occurance in Students’ Lives


Napping is a great way to catch up on those much needed zzz’s and re-energize for the rest of your day. (Doug Baum /The Observer)

Published: October 8, 2009

The new school year is officially underway and those summer days of sleeping in until one o’clock are long gone. But who are we kidding? Just because there’s more time to work and less time to sleep doesn’t mean we’re going to stop staying out until 3 a.m. So do these new sleeping patterns (also known as barely any sleep at all) affect Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students negatively?

Most students have found a way to adjust to getting less shuteye; some have even made it a habit.

“I get no more than six hours of sleep ever, even in the summer,” said said Leon Telis, FCLC ’12, “I don’t notice it much anymore.”

As for those who don’t have summer jobs keeping them on a strict sleep schedule, some are just morning people.

“I haven’t had a hard time getting up on time and I enjoy getting up earlier anyway,” said Shelley Marshall, FCLC ’11. “Then again, my earliest class is at 11:30 a.m. so I’m not really waking up at the crack of dawn.”

With FCLC being a commuter campus, it’s no surprise that long commutes play a large factor in many students’ sleeping schedules.

“Freshman year, [sleeping] was a huge problem because I had to get up at 6 a.m. to get on the train,” said Nancy Chen, FCLC ’12, of making her 8:30 a.m. class. “If I ever had to stay up late working on a paper the night before, I often fell asleep in class and even skipped class a few times as well.”

“The first week [of school] I wasn’t able to fall asleep until 2 a.m. on a nightly basis, and with classes as early as 8:30 a.m. and an hour-long commute, I walked around like a zombie,” said Tanya Plutova, FCLC ’12.

“I’ve found it hard to adjust; my school used to be in the financial district and I live near Coney Island, so now that I have to go a lot further uptown my commute is about an hour and a half long” said Katerina Smotrich, FCLC ’13. “I have to wake up around six just to make it to my 10:30 a.m. class.”

But commuters may not be the only ones who are struggling to get out of bed in the morning.

Yael Nitkin-Kaner, Ph.D., supervising psychologist and outreach coordinator at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Service (CPS) at FCLC, discussed how “some [students] find it hard to adjust to new sleeping patterns if they have roommates with different lifestyles or sleeping patterns.”

However, whether or not sleeping patterns are a problem yet, all students will undoubtedly battle the gas tank running on empty come midterms and doing so can cause problems.

Nitkin-Kaner said, “Sleep is very important; lack of sleep can cause fatigue or tiredness that can influence a person’s work and emotional and physical health.”

FCLC students seem to be well informed about the importance of sleep and have developed habits that could be beneficial to all. After much practice, some have figured out tricks for scoring that extra hour of sleep.

“Take classes [that] start no earlier than 11:30 a.m.; I’d recommend it,” said Nicky Hauser, FCLC ’11.

“If you’re a late sleeper like I am, but can’t escape [taking 8:30 a.m. classes], I recommend not waiting until the last minute to write papers, which is most often what leads to all-nighters,” said Chen.

“I usually read a book before bed and that puts me to sleep,” said Jessica Lella, FCLC ’13.

“Turn off your computer, as it’s usually what keeps you awake,” said Rosa McGee, FCLC ’12.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep because you’re having trouble actually falling asleep, you can always turn to the center for Counseling and Psychological Service (CPS) for help.

“CPS provides time management workshops, [as] time management can be very helpful in keeping students organized, managing stress and helping students to develop healthy sleep patterns, as well as workshops on sleep and on a variety of different topics for students,” said Nitkin-Kaner. “If you are interested, we would be happy to hear from you at 212-636-6225.”

But even with all these options, it’s inevitable for all-nighters to happen and it’s likely that you’ll be feeling the repercussions the next day.

“When all else fails, turn to coffee or tea to get you through the day,” suggests Marshall, “or naps—take half hour, mid-day naps.”

While  naps  during the day may not be an option for commuters, they can still take advantage of them.

“Taking naps when you get home makes the next day run smoother, at least for me,” adds Smotrich.

Early on in the semester, sleep may seem like an afterthought. But the late-night reading sessions, early morning classes, and tossing and turning thinking about that midterm will eventually catch up on you. While you may not ever be able to catch eight straight hours of shuteye, refueling in other ways throughout the day is bound to make a difference.