As university students with endless assignments and exams, it may be difficult to make our sleep a priority. But getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important for our learning, memory consolidation, focus, and overall wellbeing. 7-9 hours of sleep is suggested for adults for optimal energy and performance throughout the day, but this number can be different for many people. Here are some scientifically proven tips to help you get a better night’s sleep!
During the Day
Try to get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. You’ll find it easier to fall asleep and get deeper, better quality sleep.
Taking a nap during the day can be a great way to catch up on sleep. If you are going to take a nap, try to take it earlier in the day (around mid-afternoon) to avoid having difficulty sleeping at night. When we sleep, we cycle through 90 minute sleep periods. The best length for a nap is either 30 minutes, right before you enter deeper sleep, or 90 minutes, at the completion of your sleep period.
Setting up your Sleep Environment
Make your room as dark as possible. That includes the light from your laptop charger or any other electronic devices, or any other distractions that can light up throughout the night and disrupt your sleep. The best environment for good quality sleep is in pitch darkness, so it might be a good idea to invest in blackout curtains.
Keep your room at a cool temperature for optimal sleep.
Before You Sleep
Try to turn off your devices, including your phone and laptop, 30 minutes to an hour before you get into bed. Melatonin, a mildly sleep producing hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, aids you to fall asleep faster but decreases when you are exposed to light. Your screens emit blue light, which causes us to be alert and decreases our melatonin production. If you must use your electronics before bed for any reason, you can download apps that can change the display of your screen to a less harsh colour at night (I use one called Flux).
Allow yourself adequate time to unwind before you go to bed. Having a regular bedtime routine every night will signal your brain that you are preparing to go to bed. You can read, meditate, do yoga, listen to music, or do anything that will calm your mind before you drift off to sleep.
Elevating your body temperature before bed and then letting it cool down can result in deeper, better quality sleep. You can do this by taking a hot shower or drinking tea and then going to sleep in a cooler environment.
If you find yourself worrying or having anxious thoughts while you are trying to fall asleep, write in a journal before going to bed. Write down anything you are concerned about and give yourself the permission to let any tasks or thoughts wait until the next day.
During your Sleep
If you are lying in bed for 20 minutes and you are still unable to fall asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel like you are ready to try to sleep again.
For Long Term
If possible, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night, including on weekends. Having a consistent schedule regulates your circadian rhythm and your body will slowly become adjusted to it, making it easier to get up Monday morning.
Being a university student doesn’t mean that we need to compromise our sleep and our well-being to succeed. Rather, it challenges us to find a balance in our busy lives between doing well in school while also getting the optimal sleep that we need to function best.
Visit https://students.ubc.ca/health-wellness/self-help/sleep to learn more about sleep! If you are still having trouble sleeping, visit your doctor to find out more information specific to your needs.
Post Written By: Lauren L.
Images from CC