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Surprising Summer Sleep Challenges—and How to Deal

College students can turn even the smallest space into a sleep sanctuary. These five strategies can help you get started.

Quality sleep doesn’t have to end when school starts. True, college life comes with many distractions that are not always conducive to getting enough sleep. As a college student, though, aiming for seven to nine hours a night should be your goal—it could help improve learning and even increase your grade point average. You can set yourself up for success by designing a dorm room that encourages shut-eye. Start with these tips to wake up feeling refreshed.

Limit Outdoor Light
When decorating your dorm, the first step is to find a way to control the amount of light in the room during the night and early morning. Light—both sunlight and artificial—affects your circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock that tells you when to sleep and wake up. If your dorm room doesn’t come with blinds or curtains, it’s smart to invest in a set. On a budget? Hang a dark sheet or blanket in front of the window instead.

Control Indoor Lighting
Another must-have is a desk lamp. In a perfect world, you and your roommate would go to bed at the same time nightly, but in the real world, your roommate may be up late studying after you turn in. Ask your roommate to use a desk lamp instead and turn off the overhead light to minimize the room’s brightness so that you can go to sleep. (For an extra layer of light protection, keep an eye mask on your nightstand to create a total blackout.)

Pick Cool Colors
Outfit your room with accessories in the blue-gray range of the color spectrum. Surrounding yourself with those hues may improve your sleep quality, while warm shades (like yellow or red) could actually disrupt shut-eye by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. You don’t have to paint your whole room blue (though you could!)—even a navy accent pillow or a gray comforter cover may have the desired effect.

Add a Subtle Fragrance
The right scent also plays a role in promoting sleep. Using an essential oil diffuser with a sleep-promoting fragrance, such as lavender or jasmine, before bedtime could help you relax. Avoid burning incense while sleeping, though, as this is a potential fire hazard.

Keep Things Tidy
The final step in creating a sleep sanctuary is something your mom may have already told you: Clean your room and do laundry often. An uncluttered space may help you fall asleep more easily, as can fresh linens. Now that you’re no longer living at home, this is a great time to set up a regular cleaning schedule!