One of the biggest challenges my first semester was adjusting my sleep schedule to college life. In high school, my schedule was pretty routine: I woke up every morning at 6 to go to school and was typically home by 9 from all my activities. With this in mind, I could plan times to do homework throughout the day, and most of the time I managed to be in bed by 11 or 12.
Once I got to USC, however, my schedule became much more fluid. With club meetings late at night, sorority events, concerts, and some projects that called for all-nighters, I was no longer getting the sleep I needed. Because of this, I was always tired in class, which negatively affected my ability to absorb information (I learned that math at 9 am is not easy with 2 hours of sleep from the night before!), and I often caught whatever cold was going around (my roommate, Emily, can confirm that this was NOT fun). My second semester, I made a conscious effort to go to bed and wake up at a similar time each night. I am so much happier, healthier, and can actively engage in class as a result.
I encourage everyone starting college this fall to avoid the mistakes I made and be proactive about their sleeping habits, beginning this first semester. Understand that a lot of new factors in college will affect the way you sleep. You will most likely be sharing a room with at least one person; you will have more work and harder classes; your schedule will be unpredictable. Make sure to talk to your roommate about what time you want to go to bed, and let each other know when you have upcoming exams, so both of you can get the appropriate amount of sleep. There also may be pressure to stay up all night cramming for an exam, but sometimes sleep can be your best study tool.
I found that I like to go to bed early and wake up early. Personally, I don’t have the brain power for challenging calculus or physics problems late at night. I do these assignments in the early morning or in between my classes and then do readings and writing assignments at night. Of course, sometimes I have to veer away from this routine, but generally I try to stick to it. This definitely doesn’t work for everyone, but make sure to find a sleep schedule that works for you, especially as an incoming freshman. Sleep is so important in order to study efficiently, enjoy class, and generally be a happy person. Trust me, I discovered this the hard way!