How to get those Zzzz’s like a pro
There is nothing, in my opinion, better than a good night’s sleep. With exams and deadlines (and protecting your mental health now we’re in quarantine) sometimes taking a trip to the land of nod can be difficult and take a lot of effort.
For students, quality of sleep is one of the most important things you can get for your mental and physical well being. Research conducted by University of Georgia shows that students who get a good night’s rest perform better academically since they get better memory to process new information. Basically, a good night's sleep can mean better grades.
Not only will a good night’s sleep get those brain juices flowing, it can have a lot of other benefits too. Sleep can stop you feeling really hungry and can also lower the chances of you getting sick. Overall it can improve your mood and stop you feeling quite as grumpy.
Students spend a lot of time using phones and looking at computer screens. This can have an affect on your sleep. The blue light emitted from the electronic devices makes falling asleep more difficult. It can disrupt the body's ability to produce melatonin. And the constant stimulus of social media; scrolling through photos, status updates, tweets or reading online articles keep the brain and body awake and alert, creating an erudite relationship between bed and socialisation instead of bed and sleeping.
You can counteract this by keeping your bed a sacred space: for relaxing and sleep. Try to keep a regular routine of waking up and going to sleep, avoiding using your phone in bed and keep your bed as a place for sleeping and… other relaxing activities.
With little routine at the moment, and not being able to come and go as you please, you may find that you're going to bed later and later. However, especially around the time when you have deadlines and exams, it’s probably best to try to have more of a solid routine. This will help you during the day so you can crack on with work and study. Staying up late can affect your physical and mental self, as well as affecting you academically. On this note, drugs and alcohol can have some severe impacts on sleep. Although some can induce sleep, or make you feel sleepy, the quality of sleep is not sustainable for a healthy lifestyle.
In the morning, when you don’t feel like you’ve had a good night's sleep, many turn to tea, coffee or even energy drinks. These can actually make your sleep patterns worse, as although they can perk you up when you need the caffeine, it can remain in your system and cause disruption to your sleep the next night.
Our Top Tips for a great night’s sleep
- Have an hour before you go to bed where you don’t use your electronics. This might be a great time to re-read your notes, or do some reading for class or for pleasure. This isn’t always realistic for students so why not think about a blue light filter on your devices to help reduce how much blue light you are exposed to.
- Some people find that the sound of the street or noises outside their bedroom can keep them awake. Try earplugs, listening to rain sounds or classical music. Set it on a timer, listening to them for an hour so that it will turn off and not disturb you throughout the night.
- Set a sleep schedule: If you can, set a sleep schedule of when you will get up and when you will go to bed and try to stick to it. To function at its best, your body needs a regular schedule.
- Avoid caffeine after 4pm: it’s best to avoid caffeine after 4pm, as it can still be in your system for up to 8 hours after consumption. Because even if you do fall asleep, the increased brain wave activity the quality of the sleep will be less and not as revitalising.
- Optimise your sleep space. Make where you sleep one of your favourite places; mood lighting, comforting items, blankets, your teddy bear, a hot water bottle, fairy lights. Whatever you need to make it a comfortable space that prepares your body for sleep. If you only have your bedroom as your sacred space, divide it into three zones: sleeping, relaxing and studying. DO NOT be tempted to study in bed - you’ll probably end up napping or you’ll find your brain will be too active in bed because it will expect to be studying.
- Try drinking chamomile or hot milk before bed. Have something warm, soothing and caffeine free.
- If you are really struggling with your sleep - speak to the doctor.
It may be the last thing you want to do, but sticking to a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up at the same time, even on weekends, you will feel so much better because of it and it will help you with studying, exams and deadlines.
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