Dealing With Insomnia

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. Whether it’s the stress of completing assignments or upcoming exams, distractions on my phone, or just the fact that my brain won’t turn off, there’s been multiple occasions in the last week alone that I’ve finally managed to doze off in the late AM. However, I know I’m not the only person that struggles with this, so here are a few tips to help you catch those well-needed z’s.

1. Don’t drink too much caffeine in the afternoon/evening

One iced coffee while I was studying in the library the night before a midterm ended up being one of the worst things I had ever done to myself. This almost goes without saying, as caffeine is supposed to make you feel energized, but I had no idea how long the effects can last in your body. Some people are more responsive to the effects of caffeine than other, but one iced coffee at 6 PM managed to keep me up all night – so it’s best to avoid it!

2. Limit distractions – especially your phone

Phones emit blue light, which has been shown to slow down the production of melatonin in your brain – that is, the hormone that tells your body that it’s time to sleep. Even with the night mode built into iPhones that emits less blue light, studies show that staring at a screen before you go to bed can keep you awake longer, regardless of whether it’s blue light or not. Even though I love to scroll through Twitter before bed just as much as anyone else, sometimes it’s better to leave your phone on the nightstand to let your brain wind down.

3. Relax

One thing that I’ve discovered is that the longer I’m unable to fall asleep, the more frustrated I get, which in turn makes it even harder to sleep because all you’re thinking about is wanting to sleep – confusing, right? Either way, too much stimulation in the brain makes it difficult to fall asleep, so try and wind down a bit! You could try listening to music, reading a chapter or so from a book, or even just thinking about something to help calm you down. There are also a lot of apps you can get on your phone with soothing sounds such as rainfall, the ocean, and other things that you may find help you settle down.

4. Get up and move around a bit if you can’t sleep

This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to finally fall asleep is to get up and do something else for 10 minutes or so before you go back to bed. Studies done have shown that this can be used as stimulus control – meaning that you’re teaching your brain that lying in bed is sleep and for sleep only. Lying awake in bed makes it a place for things other than sleep (such as thinking or worrying) which can actually prohibit you from falling asleep.

5. Hide your clock

There’s nothing worse than rolling over on a sleepless night and just watching as the hours tick by while you can’t fall asleep. Studies have shown that constantly checking the clock when you can’t fall asleep increases stress levels, which only makes it harder to fall asleep.

 

I know sleep can be hard to come by for students in university, but remember: you perform your best if you’re well-rested!