School and Insomnia: Navigating Sleeplessness Before and After Graduation

The quality of my sleep drastically changed when I graduated from university. I had not realized how much being in school worsened my insomnia until I graduated and my sleep improved.

When I was still a student, studying and completing my assignments took precedence over everything else, including sleep. Not only would I actively pull all-nighters to finish essays, but I would also practice poorer sleep hygiene.

How my sleep hygiene suffered

I would sit in bed with my laptop to study. I would attend online classes from the comfort of my bed, which was really helpful some days with my chronic pain, but I would stay in bed to attend class on low pain days as well.

I did not really have a bedtime routine or schedule, I would just wake and sleep according to my class schedule, which differed each day of the week. To catch up on sleep, I would nap if got the chance, oftentimes this would not be restful sleep.

I didn't have the time or energy to practice good sleep hygiene and make sure I was eating well, staying active, and taking care of my mental health, all of which lend to better sleep.

Consequently, my insomnia was worse than it had ever been while I was in school.

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Post-grad improvements for better sleep

Once I graduated, I found that I had the time and energy to properly care for myself and develop more of a nighttime routine.

I found myself spending more time in the living room and outside of the house. Only being in my room or in my bed when it was time to sleep helped me a lot. Even on higher pain days I made sure to rest on the couch instead of in bed; this reduced the sleepless hours I would spend in bed at night.

I also began eating better. I'm not eating very healthy but it is much more balanced than it was when I was in school. Finally, I had the time and energy to incorporate movement into my life, which has helped my chronic pain and my sleep. I expose myself to sunlight as often as possible. I made sure to open up the blinds and spend some time outside when I was able to.

Most importantly, the reduction in stress from not having to worry about classes and assignments improved my mental health significantly, and I found I had less worries that would keep me up.

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My insomnia changed, but it didn't go away

Don't get me wrong - my insomnia didn't go away when I finished school, but it did improve and become more manageable. I'm still up until 1 to 3 AM regardless of how early I go to bed, or how much I have done throughout the day. But this is better than when I would be up until 4 or 6 AM everyday, sometimes not sleeping at all until the morning or afternoon.

The self-discipline required to manage insomnia is time and energy consuming and was not doable when I was still attending university. But it's doable now and I have a better relationship with sleep now. I might go back to school one day, but I will not let it take over my life as it once did. I will do my best to fit it into my schedule, ensuring I take care of myself and my sleep first.

How do you relate to my experience? Does school or work affect your sleep? Let us know!

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