10 tips for *actually* getting some shut eye in a dorm, straight from sleep experts

Yes, we're talking about a *real* all-nighter!

College dorm with two beds and desks
(Image credit: Dormify)

College is many things, but a place to catch a restful night's sleep is not necessarily one of them. 

Whether it's impromptu 4 AM guitar solos or dorm parties that end when your early-morning psych class begins, campus housing can be... hectic. Even if you have comfy and efficient dorm supplies, there's a chance that adjusting to life away from home might cause a few restless nights. 

But there's no need to fret — we spoke to sleep experts and they provided top-notch tips to help you catch some Zs. Make sure to set your alarm, though—you're not going to want to sleep through breakfast.

The best dorm sleep hacks

From accessorizing properly to adjusting study routines, here's what our sleep experts suggest when moving into a dorm. Is that a yawn we just heard, dearies? Sleep tight! 

1. Establish a routine

Look, we get it: there are going to be all-nighters. There are going to be homecomings. There are going to be Very Long Term Papers that you cannot start the night before but somehow did. Whoops

There are always going to be factors affecting when your head actually hits the pillow. Try as hard as you can to establish some sort of routine before tucking in that doesn't involve prepping a Microsoft Word doc or doom-scrolling TikTok for makeup hacks. 

"Bedtime habits signal to the brain that is time to wind down and these activities can boost melatonin, the sleep hormone contributing to a better night’s sleep," says Chris Tattersall, Woolroom's sleep expert, who suggests activities like meditation or reading. 

2. Shower at night

You might feel invigorated after an early-morning shower, but sometimes scrubbing in the evening helps relax your muscles, and in turn, allows you to drift off to Neverland, according to BackHug's Chongsu Lee. 

Likewise, Mattress Online’s expert, James Wilson, The Sleep Geek, says, "A warm shower will initially raise your core temperature. When you step out of the shower, your temperature will then drop, helping you feel cooler. This is important, as it’s a cue for your body to prepare for sleep."

3. Pay attention to the time

You might get lost in the stacks at the library with your roomie until the wee hours, but make a solid effort to close your eyes when it's most important. 

"It is best to sleep between the hours of 11pm to 2am," Lee says. "This is when the body produces the most healing hormones: melatonin, serotonin, and endorphins. If you miss these hours, your sleep won’t be the best quality."

4. Invest in the right bedding

Sometimes it takes a little extra love to help make a dorm bed feel like the one you have at home, and a mattress topper is a good place to start. 

"Consider buying a mattress topper to add an extra layer of comfort and stop you waking up with a stiff neck or a bad back," Wilson recommends.

5. Create a calm environment

We are always trying to nail the boho vibe, but don't disregard hues when decorating your space—it might be beneficial in the long run. 

"Keep colors and smells in mind," says Dr. Angela Holliday-Bell. "Using soothing colors in your dorm room such as blues can help provide a calming and relaxing effect. Certain scents such as lavender and Jasmine have also been shown to promote relaxation, decrease anxiety, and promote sleep." 

If you want to feel ~zen~ check out our expert-backed ways to make a dorm bed more comfortable and how to make a dorm room more relaxing

6. Accessorize accordingly

Sometimes, you can't just rely on a comfy pillow to help you count sheep — you need to bring in the pro tools.

"I recommend using either a sound machine to mask sounds from outside the room, or sleep headphones that can drown out noises from inside the room," says Dr. Holliday-Bell. "You can also use earplugs to keep your environment nice and quiet."

(Psst: Check out Real Homes' editor's review of the Homedics SoundSleep White Noise Machine.)

7. Take power naps sparingly

While a power nap between bio and physics might sound appealing, and your bed can be a comfortable place to start that term paper, resist the urge to get cozy during the day. 

"Throughout the day, make sure to differentiate your sleep environment from any other setting," Tattersall recommends. "Although it may be tempting to relax by using your bedroom to watch television, exercise or even work, your brain won't be able to separate the spaces, resulting in a restless night." 

8. Opt for wool

Science says wool has its benefits, including better sleep. Perhaps it's time to invest in a throw for your bed.

"Due to its temperature regulating properties, wool keeps you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold, unlike synthetic fibers," Tattersall says. "Heat regulation is crucial to great sleep and being too hot is often the number one disruptor of a great night’s sleep."

9. Talk to your roomie

While compiling a list of questions to ask your college roomie, one should be devoted to sleep environments. Hash out specifics as soon as possible to avoid any issues from arising throughout the semester.

"Compassionate conversations can be really important," Wilson notes. "If you share a room with another student, then have a quick talk about how you sleep, listen to how they sleep, and agree on some parameters that work for you both. This means everyone can get the sleep they need."

10. Recreate your home

If you're feeling a little homesick and missing your room at home, trick your brain into thinking you're still under their roof, even if you're thousands of miles away. 

"Take pictures of the people and things you love to put around your bed, use the same laundry detergent for your bedding that is used at home, and if you’re in a relationship, maybe take your partner's perfume or cologne so you feel more emotionally connected to them," Wilson adds. 

So, what do you think? Ready to enjoy a peaceful R.E.M. Cycle? We'll catch you on the quad in the a.m.!

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.