Sleep Strategies for International Students


Quote the Raven: Olivia


Calling all International Ravens!

As we approach our second online semester at Carleton, we’ve definitely become virtual pros. However, there are many struggles we’ve collectively faced over the year so far. While we’ve all come to know the dreaded “Zoom Fatigue” pretty well, many international students may be struggling with an additional form of fatigue. To all of the students currently struggling with the added pressures of attending synchronous courses from a different time zone, don’t sweat it! Here are a few helpful tips to help you keep track of your course loads while keeping your body well-rested.

As most professors make a habit of posting class times and assignment due dates way ahead of time on CuLearn or the course syllabus, consider taking the time to sit down and write out all the important events on a calendar or planner. Don’t forget that Carleton uses Eastern Standard Time, so it is important to convert your class times and due dates to your designated time zone! If you are unaware of how to do so, try using a time zone converter.

When it comes to sleep schedules, additional adjustments may be required. It is important to try and get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Let’s say your course is at 4am in your current timezone. It may be best to fall asleep in the early evening the previous night. However, should your course occur at 12am your time, it may be best to try to stay awake for the course and then get 7-9 hours of sleep afterwards. Although it may be difficult to stay awake during the first few weeks of adjustment, things such as bright lighting and snacks can help boost your energy. Most importantly, avoid attending your virtual class in bed to prevent falling asleep! Try sitting upright at a desk if possible. It may take a bit at first, but it is important to keep a regular sleep schedule so that your circadian rhythm adjusts properly. Try your best to keep a similar sleep cycle, even during the weekend and reading week.

As some courses require group work, this may be difficult for you if your schedule is wildly different from those who are learning virtually from Ottawa. If you feel that you are unable to synchronize your schedule to meet with group members for a project, consider using the course CuLearn forum to see if any students are learning in a time zone similar to yours. This way, you won’t have to greatly adjust your sleep schedule any further.

Should you run into any issues during your semester, do not hesitate to reach out to ask for help. Your professors are here to help you succeed. It may be useful to reach out to your professors and notify them of your situation ahead of time, especially if your timezone different will greatly impact your ability to learn. It could also be very helpful to stay connected with your peers for additional support. That way, you can easily keep up-to-date with missed content if you are unable to make it to class.

Lastly, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Take care of your mental health before anything else! This is still new to many, and adjustment does not come easy. Remember that you are not alone in this and that many other international students are struggling with the same things you are. What you are doing is not easy and we commend those who are completing their degrees from across the globe! Remember to take the time to turn off your screens, rest and spend time with your friends and family (from a distance, of course!)

Wishing all students another fantastic semester!

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