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How To: Get a Better Night’s Sleep

The amount of sleep one needs varies from individual to individual, but far too often, too many of us are sleep deprived. It can be hard to wind down at the end of the day: you probably have at least one roommate, homework to do, a test to study for, or a movie night planned any given weeknight. By this point, you probably already know how much sleep you need to be the functional, energetic girl you are. The tips below will help you make the most of your bedtime hours, whether you’re aiming for the bare minimum or the well-rested maximum.

  • Stay away from bright lights: Try to avoid the computer screen or TV before bed. The light stimulates your brain, making it harder to fall asleep. If you know you need to do work before bed, try to stick to reading assignments that don’t require the use of your laptop.
  • Skip the late caffeine: Caffeine can stay in your body for a long time after you sip it. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, dark chocolate, etc.) after 3PM to ensure it doesn’t keep you up all night.
  • Comfy bedding: Granted, your dorm room bed probably isn’t as cozy as your bed at home but there are still ways to make the most of the XL twin. A foam mattress pad is essential and I love my memory foam pillow. Soft sheets and a fluffy comforter will also help your corner of the room feel more like home.

  • Keep your room cool:
    If you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning, try keeping your room a little cooler than you normally would. This will help you stay asleep through the night. In a hot room, you are more likely to toss and turn.
  • Avoid huge meals before bed: try to have your last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. Having a large dinner before bed is likely to interrupt your sleep.
  • Eye mask: I only started using one this year, and I wish I had started years ago. Wearing an eye mask, especially when you have roommates who may be coming in and out of the room when you’re already asleep, makes a huge difference. It blocks out all excess light and also helps you fall back to sleep quickly if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night.

And if all else fails…


  • Melatonin:
    I will occasionally take 3mg of the sleep hormone melatonin if I’m really unable to fall asleep. Melatonin can be bought at any drug store and helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
  • Write down your worries: If you can’t seem to sleep because worries are running though your head, write them down. Don’t distract yourself by watching a Modern Family rerun (the lights will stimulate your brain), but grab your journal and write about what’s bothering you. Journals are even made for this specific purpose!
  • Don’t check the time: Whatever you do, try to avoid constantly checking the clock. Seeing the minutes (or hours) pass by will only make you more anxious about your inability to fall asleep.

Remember that getting enough sleep helps you stay healthy; your immune system, memory, and skin will all benefit. Try to get ready for bed as soon as you start to feel sleepy so you don’t get distracted, and remember that whatever may be happening on Facebook or Twitter can always wait until tomorrow. Sleep tight!
 

Margaret is a senior at Bucknell University majoring in psychology and economics. She is a campus correspondent for Her Campus Bucknell, a member of the women's squash team, and spent last semester abroad in Rome. She loves all kinds of music from Michael Buble to old-school hip hop, Kiawah Island (SC), Oprah magazine, crossword puzzles and going out to leisurely weekend brunches with her friends. 
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