When you’re busy with studying, group work, papers, presentations, extracurriculars, social time, and whatever else is going on in your life, it can feel like there’s no time to fit a good night’s sleep into your busy schedule. Don’t fall for it! Here are some reasons why sleeping is so important for your overall health, and some proven tips to help with your sleep hygiene.
Sleep is important
Often considered one of the three pillars of health along with diet and exercise, sleep is essential to maintaining day to day function. Studying for Success recommends that a well-balanced week for students should include “56 hours of sleep, 56 hours of academic activities, and 56 hours of other activities (personal maintenance, social/recreational and miscellaneous activities).”
If one aspect of your life starts taking up more time, it’s common to borrow that time from your sleep. Lack of sleep can negatively affect your memory, mood, and general ability to function. Even though an all-nighter might seem beneficial at the time, sleeping can actually improve your exam performance.
How to get a good night’s sleep
If getting enough sleep at night is a problem, napping is always a solution. If you’re like me and have trouble napping, getting a restful sleep is even more important. I talked to Dr. Samuel Deurveilher who teaches Neuroscience 3264, “The Science of Sleep,” for his thoughts on getting a good night’s sleep. His advice? Good sleep hygiene!
Sleep hygiene is about developing good sleeping habits. Just like taking a shower or brushing your teeth, it’s important to take care of your sleeping habits for your mental and physical wellbeing. One of the best tips is to make sleep a priority and to keep a regular sleep schedule. Dr. Deurveilher has a few other tips for improving your sleep hygiene.
Relaxing bedtime routine
Get yourself ready to go to sleep.
- Take a warm shower or bed.
- Read a book.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Have a light bedtime snack.
- Stay off your phone! The blue/LED light of electronics tricks your brain into thinking you’re awake.
- Turn your clock away from you. Constantly checking the time and worrying about how much sleep you’re not getting won’t help you fall asleep.
Make your bedroom comfortable.
- Keep your room a cool temperature.
- Keep it dark (or wear an eye mask).
- Keep it quiet (wear ear plugs if needed!).
- Keep a notepad by your bed. If you find your mind racing at night, write down your thoughts and worries and deal with them the next day.
Regular exercise is important, especially in the late afternoon or early evening. Try not to have a strenuous workout before going to bed. Also, get outside during the day. Studying is important but staying inside all day is not beneficial for your sleeping habits.
Your bed is for sleeping…mostly
Try to avoid spending any time in bed that doesn’t involve sleeping. This includes watching TV, playing video games, eating, or studying. I know watching Netflix in bed with your favourite snack is amazing and seems like the best thing in the world, but it won’t help your sleep habits.
Avoid stimulants after lunch
If you’re a coffee drinker, try to stick to a cup in the morning. Drinking or eating anything with caffeine can alter your sleep schedule and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Nicotine should also be avoided before bedtime (and all the time, really)—it is a stimulant (and incredibly unhealthy) after all! Finally, although alcohol may help you fall asleep, it will fragment your sleep later on and disrupt the quality of the sleep you get.
Delainey always wants to sleep.