9 Ways to Wake Up Refreshed

Sleep is so important. While going out, staying up late to study for a test, or binging on the latest Netflix series may all seem vital to being a college student, in reality, what we really need is sleep. Lack of sleep can increase risk-taking behavior, cause weight gain, and lead to sickness. Sleep helps our bodies to repair tissue, recover from the day’s activities, and grow muscle. For these reasons, it is especially important to sleep when we are sick and injured. Here are some ways to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep:


1. Wake up at the same time every day

The circadian rhythm is a 24 hour sleep and wake cycle. While it would be nice to say we go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, that is very unrealistic. Picking a time to wake up every day and waking up within 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after this time will help develop a strong circadian rhythm. Then, if you happen to go to bed very late one night, your body is likely to still feel awake at your normal wake up time. If you choose to take a nap during the day, try to keep them to about 30 minutes so that it does not affect your circadian rhythm.


2. Exercise for at least 30 minutes per day

Exercise is a great way to naturally improve your mood and reduce stress. Exercising is also known for improving the circadian rhythm. This means that it promotes daytime alertness and nighttime sleepiness. With that said, you should not work out right before bedtime because exercise right before bed can act as a stimulant. Making your body tired during the day will prevent restless movements during the night, thus improving your quality of sleep. Looking at the reverse relationship between exercise and sleep, science shows a lack of sleep has poor effects on the next day’s workout. Therefore, exercising helps you to sleep better and sleeping helps you to exercise better.


3. Limit caffeine and nicotine consumption in the afternoon

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that increase alertness and concentration. While they may be helpful in preparing your mind for an early morning test, caffeine and nicotine are quite addictive and can prevent you from a restful night of sleep. Limiting caffeine and nicotine consumption in the late afternoon and evening will significantly increase your quality of sleep and promote tiredness in the late evening, making it easier to fall asleep. Drink your daily cup of Joe in the morning!


4. Develop a sleep routine

At night, you may like changing into pajamas, brushing your teeth, and washing your face before getting into bed. Developing a consistent routine, like this one, will help signal your body when it is time to get ready for bed, and over time, your body will better be able to recognize when it is time to sleep. For many people, developing routines is a positive experience because it helps organize their day, and putting these routines into practice is calming on the mind.


5. Sleep in a dark room

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that helps our bodies sleep. When we spend too much time in overlit environments at night time, our bodies natural supply of melatonin is suppressed, making it harder to fall asleep. Try limiting phone and computer usage near bedtime to avoid ‘breaking down’ the brain’s natural supply of melatonin. When you are trying to fall asleep, make sure your room is as dark as possible to ensure proper melatonin regulation. If you find it difficult to make your room dark, try sleeping with an eye-mask.


6. Use white noise

During sleep, the brain still processes noises. This can cause you to unnecessarily jostle in your sleep, sometimes changing your heart rate and blood pressure, thus disrupting your restful night. White noise can help by reducing the difference between background noises and “peak” noises, like someone dropping a book down the hall your roommate closing the door loudly. In turn, you will get a better night’s rest. You can use a fan, smartphone app, or sound machine to create white noise.


7. Drink chamomile tea

If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, you might want to try drinking chamomile tea before bed. Chamomile tea helps reduce stress and induce sleep.


8. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier

Many college students experience insomnia, issues falling asleep and staying asleep, at some point. To help combat this, you should try moving your sleep schedule up 15 minutes each night until you are going to bed at what you feel is a reasonable time. Contrary to popular belief, looking at your phone will not help you fall asleep, it will actually further disrupt your sleep, so unplug and read a book if you really need to.


9. Limit activities in bed

Beds are not meant for doing homework, watching TV shows, or completing any number of responsibilities. Beds are meant for sleeping. Using your bed for other activities will increase alertness and encourage the development of poor habits in bed. Going to sleep should be a calming experience, and bringing non-relaxing activities to bed can negatively affect your sleeping habits.


Hopefully, these tips help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Happy sleeping!