When high school graduates are finally given the freedom to move out of their parent’s home and live on their own at college, dorm room living sounds like the perfect escape. But quickly students learn that a dorm isn’t always the best living environment. Especially as it pertains to getting a good night's sleep.
As if starting college isn’t stressful enough, living in a dorm room for the first time comes with its own challenges. Students may be challenged when living in a dorm room by feeling homesick, negotiating a smaller space, or having trouble sharing a room with a fellow undergrad. Many are sharing a room for the first time in their lives and it takes time to learn another person’s lifestyle and habits.
When a dorm room doesn’t feel like home, it’s nearly impossible to get a good night’s sleep. And college students don’t want to put themselves at risk of experiencing sleep deprivation. Without consistent, quality sleep, students suffer mentally, physically, and academically. Living in a dorm room, however, shouldn’t be something over which to lose sleep. With a few simple adjustments, a dorm room can feel like home. It will also become a conducive environment for a good night’s sleep.
The Why: Why Students Experience Difficulty Sleeping in a Dorm
As a new student adjusts to college life, they will undoubtedly experience more stress from the rigor of higher education coursework and classes. They will also need to learn to manage their own time. And find their own structure and schedule for managing their life. Increased stress is one of the biggest causes for sleep deprivation. Who can manage a good night’s sleep when they can’t clear their mind at night? Our life Hack Decks™ line of prompt cards, including Dorm Deck, offer suggestions for how to manage time and increase productivity.
Inside the four walls of a college dorm, there are plenty of other obstacles in the way of getting sleep. Living in a dorm inevitably leads to late-night noise and light disruptions from underneath doors and streetlights. There is also an element of sterility that is part of a dorm room feel with its white walls, tile flooring, and bland furniture. Surely, it just doesn’t feel like home, and this can, on a deep level, affect sleep.
All of this to say that student’s sleep patterns can be interrupted for a multitude of reasons that aren’t necessarily always caused by living in a dorm. They are often exacerbated in a new and less comfortable space. Although it may feel like an added cause of stress, living in a dorm can be a great way to build connections with friends and help students acclimate to their new college environment.
To make the most of dorm life, students can use simple techniques to improve their dorm room situation. By optimizing the room, keeping up with healthy lifestyle habits, and improving sleep hygiene, students can avoid losing sleep over unnecessary stressors.
Optimizing A College Dorm so it Feels Like Home
The dorm room a student occupies will likely be the bare bones of a bedroom and need some updates and décor. There are dorm hacks all over the internet to help students fully deck out their dorm room and transform its environment into something that feels cozy and more like home. It only takes a few simple adjustments to make a dorm feel homey and help improve a student’s sleep environment.
Tackle Light Pollution and Noise Disruptions
While students can’t control everything that goes on outside their dorm room, they can take measures to prevent it from disrupting their sleep inside the room. Light pollution is the easy fix. Black out curtains hung over the windows improve sleep. This reduces bright lights from cars or lamp posts invading a dorm room bedroom.
Outside noise can be handled in many ways. One option is to use noise-reducing earplugs. A white noise machine can be a great tool to mask any loud disruptive noises at night. Other sound machines that produce calming sounds from nature can also help students relax and keep them asleep. This is especially true for those who move from the country into the city and like the sound reminder of home.
Make the Bed More Comfortable
Dorm room mattresses are typically low-quality and uncomfortable. A good quality mattress is the foundation of a great night’s sleep. Investing in one that will last a student beyond the college years is well worth the cost. A cheaper and easier option may be to purchase a mattress topper. Adding a few inches of memory foam to the top can help mask the stiffness of a dorm room bed.
Along with being uncomfortable, most dorm room beds are also lofted, which is unusual for incoming freshmen who likely did not sleep in a lofted bed in their parent’s home. While it may be higher than expected, it is often necessary to provide more floor space in an already small room. If having a lofted bed causes fear and keeps a student up at night, consider adding a bed rail that prevents falling out of bed.
Add Plants to The Dorm Room
Adding plants in a dorm room will help provide a more upbeat environment and make the dorm room feel more like a home. But plants are also beneficial for improving sleep quality. Plants naturally improve indoor air quality and help clear pollutants. With cleaner air, a student will be able to breathe and sleep more easily.
Try Feng Shui Techniques – They Help!
The ancient Chinese practice of feng shui may not seem like a reliable fix for everyone, but it’s worth a try to see if it makes a more comfortable sleep environment. Try out these tips from feng shui to improve energy flow in a dorm room:
- Move the bed.
- Leave room on the sides.
- Choose bedding carefully.
Adjust the Temperature
Sleeping difficulties come from sleeping in a room that is too hot or too cold. The optimal temperature for a good night’s sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. If the thermostat is not in the dorm room, use fans to circulate air. The white noise from the fans will also help increase the ability to sleep.
Color and the Need to Fill in the White Space
Color affects mood. A stark white room is generally not relaxing for most, so fill in the space with some color in décor or wall art. Be careful to avoid mixing too many patterns or using bright colors as these can be stimulating. Stick to neutral shades with pops of soft color to make the space feel inviting and relaxing.
About Dorm Decks from life Hack Decks™
Dorm Deck is a deck of 52 card prompts that help ease the transition from living at home to living independently in a dorm. The prompts help first year students get out ahead of the curve of college life by doing things such as setting up a calendar that makes remembering homework easier. Or putting their schedule as their lock screen at the beginning of the semester. Or participating in intramural sports to both exercise and meet people.
Dorm Deck is full of unique and quality ideas that make the first year of college fun, more organized and successful. This gift helps college students succeed while making dorm life feel a little more personal. Small touches and hacks can make all the difference when living in a dorm for the first time. Give this deck as a gift to a recent high school grad who is college-bound to help them succeed in their new environment.