Sleep is an often overlooked aspect of self-care. With so many priorities to juggle in your life like classes, exams, part-time jobs, and socializing, it can be difficult to find time to sleep. Maintaining a regular bedtime and wake-up time is important because waking up early and having good sleep habits are shown to help with information retention and academic averages. Our bodies need between seven to nine hours of sleep for optimal functioning. Follow the tips below for optimal sleep success:
- Time your exercise.
Regular exercise is recommended for your health and to help you sleep well, but exercising too close to when you intend to go to bed can make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Develop a sleep ritual.
It is important to give your body cues that it is time to sleep. Listen to relaxing music, turn off screens, have a cup of caffeine-free tea, or do a relaxation exercise.
- Be gentle with yourself.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, be kind to yourself. Don’t try to force yourself to sleep or go over all the ways a lack of sleep will affect you the next day.
If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring, like reading an instruction manual, until you feel sleepy. Don’t turn on bright lights, which will give your brain a cue to wake up.
- Don’t try to sleep hungry.
If your stomach is too empty, that can interfere with your sleep. However, don’t eat a heavy meal, because that can interfere with sleep as well.
- Limit napping.
Use the daytime and the sun to set your biological clock. Try to avoid naps if you can, which may make it harder to feel tired at night. If you have to nap, try to sleep less than an hour and before 3:00 p.m.
- Optimize your room for sleep.
Try to keep the temperature, light levels, and background noise regulated. Use blackout blinds if you can’t control the light outside your room. If outside noises are loud, try ear plugs or white noise like a fan. Create a comfortable sleep environment, choose bedding and pillows that make you feel relaxed and fit your firmness preferences. Keep your bed for sleep only – try to avoid using your bed to pay bills, do work, or study. That way your body will associate your bed with sleep.
Sleep provides a time for your body to restore itself and is linked to good health and academic performance. Try to make sleep a priority for yourself. If you feel like you are suffering from sleep deprivation or other sleep difficulties, consider making an appointment at Health Services by calling 519-888-4096.