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.
Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
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.
Tips for Setting Up Your Room for Sleep Success
- Temperature. A hot room can be uncomfortable and difficult to change temperature quickly. A cooler room with lots of blankets at hand is recommended. That way you can easily change your temperature by adding or removing blankets.
- Light. Try a blackout blind or sleep mask if you cannot control the light outside or inside your room. Turn off any screens (computer, television, phone, or tablet) when you turn off the lights to go to bed. The blue light value from most screens can actually tell your body to stay awake.
- Noise. If outside noises bother you, try earplugs or white noise like a fan. If you find your room too quiet, try a soothing sleep music playlist on Spotify or YouTube.
- Comfortable accessories. Choose bedding and pillows you like and fit your firmness preferences. Everyone has different preferences for pillows and often times the best pillow for you depends on whether you sleep on your back, side or stomach. The National Sleep Foundation has tips for choosing the right pillow. Bring a blanket with you from home that you associate with being comforted. You can use it to help calm your mind if you are worried the night before an exam, or if you are just missing home.
- Don’t use your bed as a desk. Refrain from using your bed to pay bills, do work, or study. This way, when you go to bed, your body associates your bed with peaceful activities only.
For more information about Sleeping Well, see our Sleeping Well video seminar for facts and tips for healthy sleep habits.
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.