I have a pretty typical relationship with my mother. At times, she’s my best friend and all I want to do is hang out with her. At other instances, however, we fight and I have the hardest time agreeing with her about anything. Sleep is one of those topics. While she’s appalled that I go to bed after 1 am every night (which is a story for another time), she has fundamentally different ideas about sleep.
I’ve always been quite the insomniac, but my mom held the belief that if you’re tired enough, you wouldn’t have any trouble with falling asleep. This notion of being “tired enough” usually translates to working hard. If I tell my mom I can’t fall asleep, she says that I haven’t done enough during the day, whether that’s not getting enough exercise or physical activity or failing to do schoolwork.
I absolutely disagree though. The first semester of college, paired with my terrible time management, has me going to bed anywhere between 2-4 a.m. every night. Usually, around midnight, I feel incredibly tired, and the devil and the angel on my shoulders debate between staying up to finish that 80-page reading assignment or giving in and “doing it in the morning” (a promise to myself that I never fulfill). On the nights that my diligent, hardworking angel wins, I fight through the exhaustion and soon enough I’m wide awake. Once it gets past a certain point, I can’t fall asleep. Even after I’ve finished all my work, I’ve sat on my bed sometimes at 5 a.m., staring off into the distance, tired, but unable to sleep, knowing that my alarm will go off in a mere three hours.
Throughout the semester, however, I’ve learned some ways to practically ensure an amazing night of sleep (even if that “night” of sleep is just three hours before a 10 a.m. class):
Credit: Bath & Body Works
I can’t make broad claims about aromatherapy or pillow mists in general but, I know that the Black Chamomile Pillow Mist from Bath and Body Works, which I conveniently received in a goodie bag from College Fashion Week, works wonders.
When I first told my friend about this, she was skeptical, mostly because I don’t “seem” like a person who would believe in aromatherapy. And usually, I wouldn’t be someone who does. Bath and Body Works claims that “Chamomile Oil calms the mind & body. Bergamot Oil creates a sense of well-being,” and if I hadn’t used it for myself, I would’ve been extremely doubtful.
But on the nights I spray it onto my pillow and sheets (I usually spray it before I start my nightly routine, so by the time I’m done changing and brushing my teeth, my bed is dry again), I’ve realized that my quality of sleep drastically improved.
The mist has an average rating of 4.9 stars from 38 reviews. It’s also available in the scent “Lavender and Vanilla.”
Shower before bed.
This is an age-old debate: is it better to shower in the morning or at night? While the morning people have their reasons (primarily that showering functions as a way to wake them up), I was raised as a proud supporter of night-time showers.
Not only does the idea of getting into bed dirty freak me out, but it’s been proven that showering before bed relaxes you and gives way to better quality sleep.
In an article published by Time magazine, titled “How a Night Shower Improves Your Sleep,” experts argue that showering at night (ideally 1.5 hours before you go to bed), helps you fall asleep.
“Showering earlier in the evening gives your body a chance to cool off and can even trigger sleep, says Shelby Harris, director of behavioral sleep medicine at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center,” according to Time. “Several studies have shown that warming your body by taking a bath can help induce sleep when there’s enough time to cool off afterward. While much of the research has focused on baths, a 20-minute shower would have similar effects,” Harris says.
Sleep with one or no pillows.
I have six pillows on my bed. One of them is a headrest pillow I keep on my bed to act as a headboard, three are decorative, and two are actual pillows: one is a firm, memory foam from Kohl’s and another is a soft, inexpensive buy from Target.
On the nights that I tried to emulate magazine photos by incorporating all the pillows into my sleep, I woke up multiple times in the night and felt both fatigue and neck pain the next morning. When I tried the opposite and got rid of all the pillows, barring my makeshift headboard and my trusty memory foam, I felt a lot better.
There’s been a lot of research about pillows, and many experts claim that sleeping without a pillow is the way to go.
I don’t know if I’d ever go that extreme, but sleeping with only one pillow has helped me feel more rested.
If you’re debating whether or not to do something now or in the morning, do it now.
As I reluctantly change into my pajamas, I find myself debating when to do things, whether it’s finishing that dreaded reading assignment, cleaning your desk, or planning out your outfit for the next day. There are two options: do it now, before sleeping, putting off bliss for responsibility; or go to sleep now and do it in the morning.
Doing it in the morning has never worked well for me. This goes beyond just a tendency to snooze and crankiness at having to wake up an hour earlier to finish homework minutes before class. It’s probably just me and my anxious nature, but I can’t sleep well if I know that there are things on my agenda that I haven’t done.
On the nights I put things off until the morning, I toss and turn, struggling to fall asleep (despite the pillow mist, the shower, and the pillow elimination). Much like the same way my mom used to have insomnia whenever she couldn’t help me with an algebra problem and instead spent the entire night trying to figure it out while laying in bed, uncompleted tasks literally haunt me.
I’ve even gotten up in the middle of the night, after hours of failing to try to fall asleep, to finish reading the assigned chapters just so I can peacefully go to bed.
Here’s to your best night of sleep yet!