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How to sleep well and stay healthy even when you have a roommate (or two)

Thursday, July 25, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

It's hard enough to sleep well and stay healthy when you first move away from home, but it can be even more difficult with a roommate.

With a bit of advice from the MU Wellness Resource Center, it may be easier to stay on top of a healthy lifestyle during college.

Avoiding illness

There's not much you can do to keep your roommate from getting sick, so when you're confined to the same room, here are steps you can take:

  • Sanitation: Disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers and tissues are good to have around. Your best plan of attack is to clean items you share, such as doorknobs, the microwave and the TV remote. Wash sheets and other removable linens, duvet covers and slipcovers.
  • Vitamin C: Taking a vitamin C supplement is a way to help jump-start your immune system. Airborne dissolvable tablets or Emergen C vitamin supplement may be effective.
  • Sweat it out: Working out regularly can keep you stress-free and can ultimately improve your immune system. Doctors have found that regular exercise helps boost cells in your body that are poised to attack bacteria, according to fitday.com.

Sleeping well

The average college student needs 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per day. The Wellness Center lists these effects derived from lack of sleep.   

  • Fatigue and lack of motivation.
  • Moodiness and irritability.
  • Concentration and memory problems.
  • Weight gain.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents.

If you have a roommate who's a night owl or a roommate with a snoring problem, getting enough sleep isn't always the easiest goal to achieve. Here are some solutions:

  • Earplugs: If you have a roommate who snores or is just plain noisy, earplugs are your best bet. Listening to music, turning on a fan or listening to white noise can also help drown out noise. 
  • Consistent bedtime: Even though it can be hard on the weekends, keeping a consistent bedtime can help you fall asleep more easily because it helps reinforce your body's sleep-wake system, according to the Wellness Center.
  • Avoid stimulants before bed: Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can prevent you from sleeping and disrupt sleep. It takes hours for it to be eliminated from your body.
  • Comfy bed: Having a comfortable mattress and pillow is the foundation for a good night's sleep because it makes it easier for your body to relax, according to the  Wellness Center.
  • Have a bedtime routine: If you have the same routine every night before you go to bed, it helps your body wind down. Also if you do relaxing activities with lower lights, it can help ease the transition between wakefulness and sleepiness, again helping you fall asleep faster, according to the Wellness Center.

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