Student sleeping at his desk on a pile of textbooks.

Academic and work stress can impact how well and how long we sleep at night. Whether you’ve found yourself sleeping in later, taking more naps, staying up late or fighting anxious thoughts, irregular sleep habits can impact our lives and health. 

Research shows that sleep is vital for our mental and physical health. In fact, getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night can positively influence our mood, metabolism, memory, immune function and more. Whether you’re feeling fatigued, restless or both, here are some tips to help you create a better sleep schedule. 

If you’re having trouble sleeping 

You may find yourself losing sleep or experiencing insomnia. This can be due to anxiety, lack of a consistent routine or changes to your schedule. Here are some tips that can help you get more quality sleep. 

Curb your caffeine 

Caffeine typically stays in your system for about eight hours, so it’s best to finish your last energy drink or cup of coffee by the early afternoon. If you experience cravings later in the day, try to opt for decaf options or try tasty caffeine-free alternatives like sparkling water. You can also check out this article for tips on how to stay awake during the day without caffeine

Stay active earlier in the day 

Physical activity can give us a burst of adrenaline, which can help us stay alert and motivated throughout the day. However, it can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule if you work out too late at night. To avoid restless nights, try to wrap up your workout at least three hours before you plan to go to bed. If you want to squeeze in some late-night movement, consider more relaxing activities like stretching, mobility exercises or yoga.

Turn off your screens 

Blue light from our electronics can interrupt our natural ability to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. You can use built-in features like ‘night mode’ on your phone or laptop to help reduce your screen’s blue light in the evening. Whether you use these features or not, it can also be helpful to put your laptop, phone and other devices away at least one hour before you go to bed. You may also want to consider putting your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode to prevent late-night notifications, which can negatively impact your sleep, even if you don’t consciously notice them. 

Optimize your sleep environment 

Did you know that your room can impact your sleep? You can optimize your bedroom for sleep by only using your bed for resting and relaxing, adjusting your room temperature to a cooler setting, using a fan or brown noise to minimize distracting sounds and closing your curtains to make sure your room is as dark as possible. You can also use essential oils (like chamomile or lavender) to help your body relax and prepare for bed. 

Avoid lying awake 

If you find yourself lying awake in bed for more than 20 minutes, don’t force it. Sometimes our bodies need a little extra help to settle in for the night. When this happens, try getting out of bed to do a low-key activity like reading a book or stretching. Set a timer and try to do that activity for about 20 minutes before trying to go to sleep again. Avoid forcing yourself to lay in bed until you fall asleep—this can actually increase stress and make it harder to fall sleep. 

If you’re sleeping more than usual 

You may be experiencing hypersomnia if you’re taking frequent naps during the day, having difficulty waking up in the morning, sleeping through your alarm, feeling groggy or fatigued throughout the day or feeling the urge to sleep more often. Fatigue and increased sleep can be caused by various factors, including boredom, depression or medical conditions. Here are some tips to help you get your sleep schedule back on track. 

Look for patterns 

When are you sleeping? How long are you sleeping? What do you notice about your current habits? Look for patterns and try to identify things that may be impacting your sleep. These insights can help you create routines to help you back into a more regular rhythm. For instance, if you find yourself staying up late at night and needing a nap during the day, try to work out a way to get to sleep an hour or two earlier. When making these types of adjustments, try to implement changes over time. In this case, it may be most beneficial to go to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier each night until you find a bedtime that works best for you. 

Practice consistency  

Going to bed around the same time each night and getting up around the same time each morning can help you establish a solid sleep schedule. You can set yourself up for success by creating a nighttime routine that can help give your body cues to settle down for the night. For example, you can set an alarm on your phone to remind you it’s time to get ready for bed. When you hear the alarm, start your routine. This may include things like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, stretching, reading a book or enjoying another calming activity to help you wind down for the night. 

Moderate caffeine and alcohol 

Save caffeinated beverages for the mornings and early afternoons. Caffeine later in the day can perpetuate a cycle of sleepless nights and groggy days. Similarly, try to avoid using alcohol as a sleep aid. Alcohol can impact the quality of your sleep, and if you wake up in the night, it can make it more difficult to fall back asleep.

Don’t deprive yourself 

Running on too little sleep can cause us to overcompensate, which can lead to a cycle of sleep deprivation followed by oversleeping. This type of sleep cycling can take a toll on our physical and mental health, especially over time. For this reason, you should try to avoid pulling all-nighters, waiting until the last minute to finish assignments or staying awake much later on weekends than you would on weekdays. 

If you’re still experiencing sleep issues 

Changes in sleep patterns can be a side effect and early warning sign of depression or other conditions. Let your doctor or therapist know if you are not able to sleep or if you are sleeping too much. 

There are a number of resources available to help you get a better night’s sleep and manage related issues, like stress or anxiety. 

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provides mental health support for all CU Boulder students, including mental health screenings, drop-in hours, brief individual therapy, group therapy, workshops and crisis support. 

*Available for students

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)

FSAP is available to support staff and faculty with mental health concerns on campus. They offer brief therapy options to help you address a variety of concerns, including stress, anxiety, sleep issues and much more. 

*Available for staff and faculty 

Let’s Talk

Check in with a Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provider for a free, drop-in session to talk about sleep, mental health concerns and resources available. 

*Available for students 

Feel Good Fridays

Take a break from your busy schedule. This hybrid meditation workshop will feature a piece of art on display at the CU Art Museum that relates to mindfulness. Sessions are open to all students, staff, faculty and the public. 

*Available for students, staff and faculty 

Peer Wellness Coaching

Want advice from a fellow Buff? Schedule a free appointment with a peer wellness coach to help address stress, sleep issues, time management, self-care and more. 

*Available for students 

Apothecary Pharmacy

The Apothecary Pharmacy at Wardenburg Health Center is a full-service pharmacy that can fill prescriptions and provide over-the-counter remedies, including sleep aids, essential oils and more. 

*Available for students, staff and faculty 


Schedule individual or group acupuncture sessions that can help address a variety of concerns, including fatigue, sleep issues, stress, anxiety, depression and more. 

*Available for students, staff and faculty 

Medical Services

If you are concerned that your sleep issues may be related to a medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, providers at Medical Services can help diagnose and address your concerns. 

*Available for students 


Schedule free appointments online with counselors, psychiatrists and medical care providers. All appointments are free, regardless of your insurance plan. 

*Available for students, staff and faculty 

Wellness supplies

Pick up free wellness supplies, including mindfulness resources, ear plugs, eye masks, lavender aromatherapy rollers and much more at the Wellness Suite on the third floor of Wardenburg Health Center. 

*Available for students, staff and faculty