Woes of a Finals Insomniac

I used to have no issue falling asleep; the minute my head hit the pillow I was happily away in my lalaland of dreams. Ever since coming to college though, dozing off has become more and more difficult. Most nights I seem to lie awake for hours, staring emptily at the white cinder-block walls of my dorm room as my clock ticks incessantly, reminding me that in less than five hours I’ll have to wake up and be a perfectly functional human being. Groan. Why is it that my profound baby-like slumber has been replaced by anxious tossing and turning?


The fact is, the college environment is not one conducive to sleep. We live in a pseudo-camp-like structure with sporadic routines that are unique to each persons habits and where there is a constant temptation to socialize with friends. In college, club meetings, classes and social engagements run until very late and it is unsurprising to find the library packed in the wee hours of the morning.  Whereas in high school I used to have a fixed schedule, here the concept of a steady routine is nonexistent and the direction of my days are decided on an hourly basis. Back at home I reserved nights for my own personal time. After finishing all my assignments I watched TV, read a book (the non-academic kind) and turned off the lights at a reasonable hour. Now, however, I find myself cramming in my study room regardless time or heading to the gym at 9pm to squeeze a last minute workout. The shocking part is, I’m not alone; late at night you can see dozens of students wandering around campus, chuckling with friends or huffing and puffing on the treadmills, trying to fit in time for exercise in their otherwise ultra-packed days.


The issue with non-stop stimulation, though, is that it becomes difficult to unplug and relax. Why would you want to sleep when there is so much happening around you? Plus, even when you chose to call it a night it’s not so easy to turn off the rambunctious parade of thoughts that accompany you to bed. Will I have time to finish my paper tomorrow? Is she offended that I didn’t come to her show? Will he text me back? Although our body says sleep, our mind doesn’t necessarily cooperate and can keep us awake for hours with mental to-do lists, brilliant epiphanies or nagging worries.


Insomnia isn’t an issue for everyone; some lucky people accommodate to the never-ending activity with doses of caffeine and can fall asleep immediately when they clunk down in bed. But for others like myself, skydiving directly from a jam-packed day into the magical realm of sleep is no easy task. However, there is hope, fellow insomniacs! Here are a couple of tips on how to make the struggle of falling asleep easier. 



1.      Reserve a couple of minutes for your own before bed.

There’s nothing worse than going to bed stressing out about all the work you have to do the next day or thinking about the notes you just took on your international politics textbook. Yikes. Try to give your mind a rest before hitting the sack, and think about things that make you happy, things that are relaxing and soothing and will make you dream of unicorns and butterflies… ok not really but you get the point.


2.      Read a book

This is probably the most overrated advice but there is a reason for it. Taking the time to concentrate on something other than your own life and diving into a new fantasy is such a stress-release and will rid you of all the anxieties that are hampering your sleep. And hey, there’s always a chance that the book is so boring that it will put you to sleep! Win-win situation.


3.      Turn off the machines (I mean it)

Light: Off. Computer: Off. Phone: OFF. There’s nothing worse than reaching REM and having it rudely interrupted by the obnoxious buzz of a text. Kill the technology and turn off the lights. You’ll appreciate it tomorrow morning when you wake up completely rejuvenated from a good night of rest.


4.      Ignore the squeals down the hall

Yes people are awake, and yes they’re being annoying about it. Tune them out, you’re in your own zone and you should concentrate on what you need at the moment; sleep


5.      Breathe

Forget about counting sheep, the key to falling asleep is concentrating on your breathing. In and out. The rhythm of the inhalations and exhalations will surely lull you to a profound slumber.   


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