Female college grad with graduation hat on, smiling and looking up.

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One Thing Every College Grad Needs for Success

· Article

One Thing Every College Grad Needs for Success

Ah, college, where a 10 a.m. class is considered early.


With graduation comes some new expectations. A wake up call. The college shut-eye schedule doesn’t make for the easiest transition to the traditional work world.


But as college grads head out for their first interviews or first cubicle assignments, good sleep hygiene can help ensure a good first impression.


“There’s pretty much no structure” for college sleep, says Pete Bils, the vice president of sleep science and research at Sleep Number, who is also the parent of a college student. “It’s almost like shift work. You develop very poor sleep habits, and they need to be broken.”


And that’s hard. After all, staying up until 4 a.m. to finish papers and then snatching sleep in two or three hour increments in between binge-watching Netflix is the new way of the world.


Bils said that amongst his peers, researchers are discussing the sleep impact of binge-watching shows. And while those shows are good, Bils insists that it is crucial to take the summer after graduation to ease into a sleep schedule that promotes work success, and leads to better problem-solving and communication skills.


“Don’t try to boil the ocean when it comes to changing your sleep habits,” says Bils. “When you’re shifting long-ingrained habits, you want to do it a little at a time. Try to bite off 15 minutes to a half hour at a time for a few weeks.


“If, usually, you sleep in until 10 a.m. and go to bed at 1 a.m., make it a 9:30 a.m. wake up for a while, bedtime at 12:30 a.m., and then add a half hour to the schedule until you gradually step your way back to a regular sleep schedule,” he suggests.


For college grads on the job hunt, looking tired can impact that job offer.


“Research shows that when you are sleep deprived, people can immediately sense you look fatigued,” explains Bils, who pointed to research proving that lack of sleep can make a person look and sound fatigued. People sound more monotone when tired, he noted.


“You look less healthy when you’re tired, and there are some facial characteristics that change. Even the way your hair looks changes,” he says.


Sleep has cumulative effects, he notes. Only getting quality sleep the night before your big interview doesn’t work.


As for the first few days on the job, it’s also important to get plenty of shut-eye. Forgoing sleep to study the company handbook and review everyone’s LinkedIn profile can backfire, adds Bils.


Sleep science shows that when you’re sleep-deprived, the part of your brain that resolves problems and remembers key words (your frontal cortex) doesn’t work as well. “Most of the benefits of learning something during the day are realized during the night,” remarks Bils.


This is such a huge thing to realize, because most people think they should cram and stay up to remember information, when in reality the opposite holds true. If you’re sleep deprived, you’re way less likely to remember than if you went to sleep and allowed your brain to process information like it’s naturally made to do (but can’t do as well if it’s tired). Companies have their own slang and abbreviations, their own processes, and our brains need sleep to rest and build those new pathways to cement all that new information.


If You Need a New Mattress:

Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal health and performance. What you sleep on is critical to helping you perform your best. A new job often means a first apartment, and possibly buying a first mattress. We spend a lot of time on our mattresses, Bils notes — the equivalent of 10 days a month.


When buying a mattress, he suggests:

  1. Lie on the bed for at least 15 minutes. If the bed is made of memory foam, it takes at least that long to really feel what it is doing for you.
  2. Spend as much time researching a bed as a job. A mattress is a commitment, and a cornerstone of the work journey.



Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® beds with SleepIQ® technology inside adjust to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support. SleepIQ technology tracks how well you sleep each night, giving you personal insights into your sleep so you’ll learn how life affects your sleep and how sleep affects your life. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.


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