As a college student, sleep always becomes one’s best friend and even one’s worst enemy (it’s 2:27am right now). Lately I have had difficulty sleeping only to sleep late and be super tired the next day! So, this post is going to put together some good sleep tips that maybe we both can follow. The first ray of daylight you see when you open your eyes determines your sleep cycle for the rest of the day. Make sure it counts!
We’ve all heard these tips, but it’s always good to be reminded…
1. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule, which means wake up and go to bed at generally the same time everyday. I have no rhythm of sleep right now. One day I’m asleep at midnight, the next at 2am, then to wake up at noon, or even 7am. Even if you have to stay up later, wake up at the same time. If you have to wake up later, go to bed at the same time.
2. Take A Nap, if you ‘ve lost some sleep hours. Set your alarm for 20 minutes and only nap this long. At about 40 minutes, we’ve drifted into REM sleep, which is deep sleep. By then, you’ve tricked your body into thinking you’ve really gone to bed, and you will end up feeling more tired than you started out being. If you can’t fall asleep, just shutting your eyes and relaxing will help during this 20 minutes. Early/mid afternoon is preferable and in a place that isn’t your bed, which will make you more likely to fall totally asleep.
Silas knows how to take a good nap on the couch
3. Don’t Eat, then Go to Sleep after dinner. Always plan to go on a walk after dinner, do some cleaning, or prepare for the next day. Not only will this help you get to sleep at night, you will also digest your food better and loose weight. Being still after eating is the worst!
4. Avoid Large Meals/Food/Caffeine. before bedtime because your energy will be focusing on digesting all that instead of focusing on sleep. Who can sleep will a full stomach anyway! If your hungry, eat something light and look forward to a large breakfast in the morning, which is what you should be doing anyway! Also, of course avoid alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine is a no brainer why, but alcohol is actually a stimulant and can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night, or at least to use the restroom!
Sleep is more complex than just these issues. One must make their environments conducive to sleep.
1. Keep Noise Down. to a level that won’t awake you. I live in an area with a large volume of ambulances driving in front of my house all the time. Also trains and traffic… While it is hard to keep these noises at bay (heavy curtains, white noise simulators, ear plugs!) you can help control some things, like turning the TV off or making sure everyone else keeps their noise levels low.
2. No Light. will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Even the smallest amount of light from an alarm clock, charging phone, or night light will keep the sleep chemicals from forming which causes you to fall asleep. Make sure to turn off the light before you get sleepy as well. A bright light can suddenly wake you up and mess up your sleep clock. A small nightlight that doesn’t glare in your eyes is okay if you get up in the middle of the night. Just like we need darkness at night, we need light during the day. Get daylight early as possible after waking up, even if it’s looking out a window, and see as much daylight as you can during the day. This will help your body’s time clock when falling asleep.
3. Keep Cooler temperatures in your bedroom at night. The body needs a cooler temperature to fall asleep. Our bodies naturally drops temperature at nighttime and as we come closer to waking up, we warm up again. A cooler temperature mimics our bodies natural drop, which is the lowest at about 4 hours into sleep.
4. Get Comfy. in a good, quality mattress (preferably a natural made one, which is more breathable) and pillows that support your neck and head well. A good mattress is well worth an investment. They last longer and will help you out tons in the sleep department. Figure out what type of sleeper you are. I want to be a ‘freefaller’, but then I can’t breathe. So then I lay like a ‘log’ and my arm falls asleep. I’ve just decided that I sleep best on my back, even though it’s not the most comfortable for me. Also, have bedding made of natural fibers (wool, cotton) that keeps you warm/cool and allows breathability. The ambience of your room effects your sleep. The only rule is to have a place you feel safe and where you don’t bring worries into.
5. Bed Is for Sleep. and really not much else. You shouldn’t do work, get on the computer, or really even read in your bed (except maybe a good bedtime story). You will bring the worries from these things or these things will keep you from going to bed on time. Even if you don’t know it, your subconscious can begin to associate your thoughts/worries/attention with the bed and sleep. And this will cause you to not be able to sleep. I’m a huge victim of sitting in my bed on the computer! But I don’t really have any other place to sit!
Some last few tips…
1. Stress & Anxiety. can be a huge difficulty when it comes to sleep. Keeping the bed only for sleep can help with this if you are used to worrying before bedtime. If you’re worried, do so in another place until you feel more calmed. Remember they will still be there whether your worry or not, and this time is meant to re-cooperate for the next day, so just let them go for a few hours. You can help with this by meditating, praying, deep breathing, or doing a routine like taking a bath, fixing some sleepy tea, stretch, or work on a hobby for a bit.
2. Relaxation is the Goal, not sleep really. Remember this and you won’t get stressed that you can’t go to sleep!
3. Stay Out. of your head. If you find your thoughts racing, just imagine you’re taking a step back and saying ‘whoa’. Some soft music (that goes off with a timer!) may help distract you away from your thoughts.
Say “Goodnight Moon”
4. Turn Electronics Off. or out of the bedroom. There has been hard evidence that the wave emmisions (EMFs) from electronics, even if just plugged in, disrupts the electric pulse of our bodies. A lamp and a radio is enough to keep in the bedroom. Keep other electronics to another room and possibly even unplug or shut those off at night (even wireless routers). Just try it and see what happens. There’s enough current running through the walls to affect us, think about all the gadgets we plug in too!
5. Try These Tips, before resorting to sleeping pills. They can be disruptive to sleep overtime and is a quick fix. They an also make you drowsy causing accidents or not allowing you to wake up in an emergency.
6. Go Herbal, with some aromatherapy. There is tea out there that makes tea to make you sleepy (won’t put you out, just relaxes you). They usually contain chamomile. Smelly herbs like lavender, passionflower, valerian, hops, pine, lemon balm, or even munching on celery. You can make a sachet to keep by your pillow with dried herbs, use a balm with these herbs on your writs, chest, and earlobes (like Badger Balms), burn all natural oils in an oil burner, or uses a linen/room spray. You can make your own with a spray bottle, distilled water, and some essential oils. Make sure you stay with the natural stuff. Synthetics will make sleep worse!
7. Keep Note, on your sleep patterns. Write down when you begin to feel tired and try to go to bed then. Then write down when you naturally wake up the next day and how your sleep was. Do this for several days and figure out how many hours of sleep you think you need. Also figure out if you need an odd or even hours of sleep. For many, waking up on an even number of hours (like 8 or 10) when you need an odd amount of hours (like 7 or 9) can leave you tired throughout the day. This way, if you have to wake up early, you can figure out what time you would need to wake up to stay in sync. Incorporate some of these tips and see if they help. Journal Template from Northcentral Technical College.
Lastly, here are some sleep gadgets…
I use this and it works well. I found it at my health food store and have seen it at community pharmacies.
Organic Sheet Sets from West Elm (They go on sale often)
Philps Golite, meant to help with S.A.D. people who needs lots of daylight