Let’s talk about sleep. It has countless benefits: balances hormones, lowers risks of cancer, reduces stress, improves memory, helps weight loss and the list goes on. Despite the well-known fact that sleep is a magical ingredient for a healthy mind, body and soul, most people, especially college students, tend to put it on the back burner. I can personally say that as a college student myself; I prioritize my grades over pretty much anything. The high amounts of stress and work compromise the quality of my sleep, and have lead to problems such as headaches, fatigue and, even on some nights, insomnia. I’m sure there are several other students out there that empathize with this struggle. Therefore, I have compiled a list of 8 tips to ensure amazing sleep — perhaps the best sleep of your lives. Be prepared to feel the magic.
- Turn The Temperature Down!
Studies have shown that lower temperatures, specifically between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, are the best for optimal sleep. According to Sleep.org, the reason for these seemingly cold temperatures is because when you sleep your body temperature drops to initiate the process. Therefore, sleeping in a cooler room can help speed it up, helping you fall asleep faster.
- Turn Off All Electronics Early
With the continuing advancement of technology and our dependence on them, we tend to be on some kind of electronic device constantly throughout the day. Personally, after a long day of classes, my favorite way to unwind is watching Netflix on my phone in bed. Whether you enjoy watching TV, scrolling through Instagram or catching up with news on Twitter right before bed, try and push these screen-time activities to only 30-60 minutes before you go to bed.
I know… this is a hard adjustment to make, but the results will be worth it! The brightness from the screen of your phone or computer is stimulating, so eliminating that before you sleep will ensure a restful night. A helpful way to adjust to “no screen time” is to start small and gradually increase the amount of time before bed that you turn off your electronics. You can start by turning everything off 15 minutes before you sleep, then 30 minutes, then 45 and then an hour. By doing it gradually, each added set of minutes will feel less daunting than going from zero minutes to 60.
- Take A Shower
If you typically shower in the morning, try washing up at night! One of the worst feelings is going to sleep feeling sticky and dirty. By having a freshly-cleaned body, you will keep your sheets fresh and will feel less hot when going to bed. Although this is a simple tip, it will make a huge difference!
- Drink Water… Lots Of It
Like sleep, I used to not prioritize drinking water. I would constantly wake up parched and with headaches. A good night’s sleep is one that is sound from the time you fall asleep all the way to when you wake up, and drinking at least 3-4 liters of water per day will help improve the way you feel when you wake up. Make sure you don’t drink too much water right before bed though! It’s the worst feeling having to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I recommend having your last glass of water 30 minutes before you sleep, then I would reduce it to small sips during the time after.
- Your Bed Should Be For Sleep — And ONLY Sleep!
If you are one of those people that do homework in bed, I’m sorry for this tip. Nevertheless, you should have your bed be for sleep and unwinding only. If you do your homework or eat in bed, your mind will think that your bed is a cue for those activities. Therefore, when you sleep in bed, your mind will be focused on those cues and can lead to difficulty falling asleep. It is important to have your bed only be a place for all things related to catching some z’s. Whether that be reading a book before bed, journaling or just plain sleeping, your bed should be a place where your mind receives cues that indicate “bedtime.”
- Have A Consistent Sleep Schedule
In order to be well-rested, it’s also important to have a consistent sleep schedule. If you go to bed at the same window of time every night, when the time for sleep comes, your body will be tired and ready to rest. Also, having a regular sleep schedule will help make waking up easier too! Even if you have a class later in the day, try and still wake up at your scheduled time! It will help regulate your circadian rhythms for an easier time hitting the hay.
- Try Breathing Exercises
If you have a lot on your mind and find yourself lying awake, staring at the ceiling and stressing about not falling asleep fast enough, try doing some breathing exercises to calm and free your mind of intrusive thoughts. My mom taught me to take 10 deep breaths by inhaling through my nose for 10 seconds, holding, then exhaling through my mouth for 10 seconds. By doing 10 full breaths and counting, your mind will be focused on monotonous breathing rather than your swirling thoughts, helping to clear and calm your mind before sleeping.
- Don’t Oversleep!
Is there such a thing as too much sleep? YES. Although sleep is great, too much of it can lead to the reverse effect of all benefits of 7-9 hours of sleep. It can lead to depression, memory problems, increased inflammation and higher risks of obesity and disease. Like everything in life, balance is key.
After reading this article, you are probably tired of hearing the word “sleep.” But the number of times you see the word emphasizes the incredible importance of a good night’s sleep. Yes, school and grades are important, but please don’t forget that your health is too. In fact, getting more sleep will help you be more efficient and attentive, thus helping to improve your grades more effectively than excessive stress and long hours in the library. Next time you are feeling stressed or sleep-deprived, try any of these tips to help give yourself the best sleep of your life.