Sleep is the key to all of life’s successes. It’s just as important is oxygen, water, and food. Positive sleep patterns make you smarter, prettier, and encourage other healthy habits such as exercise and eating better. Ever heard of beauty sleep? Yeah, it’s a thing. Without consistent, quality sleep, our bodies normal functions and brain activity may begin to shut down.
But enough of what I learned in my 1000 level Psychology class. Lets talk about how freakin’ amazing sleep is. Like, who doesn’t LOVE to sleep? You are literally unconscious for 8+ hours, no one is talking to you, and you don’t have to wear pants. Sounds pretty great to me. So why not learn about some ways to make your sleep experience even better?
1. Set a regular bedtime and rise time
This can be really hard for some people, especially college students. We know you probably aren’t going to bed at your normal bedtime on a Friday or Saturday night, and that’s okay. But try to keep it at least somewhat consistent and keep in mind that drastically varying your bedtimes might be one of the reasons your hangover consists of a pounding headache.
2. Limit use of the bed to sleep and sex
If you’re like me, your bed is your best friend, your right hand, your go-to (sorry Drake). While it’s tempting to want to spend every waking (and sleeping) minute in your bed, you have to remember that once it is actually time to sleep, your brain may have a harder time getting into the correct “sleep mode” if your environmental surroundings have been the same all day. Ever heard the phrase, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder?” Yeah, that applies to you and your bed, too. Plus, if you do everything in your bed, you don’t get the true satisfaction of plopping down on that comfy piece of heaven at the end of your day.
3. Exit your bedroom if you haven’t fallen asleep in 15-20 minutes
Laying in your bed for an hour and getting pissed that you can’t fall asleep isn’t helping the matter at all. And no matter how many sheep you count, sometimes they just won’t stop jumping over the stupid fence. The best way to deal with insomnia is to go into a separate room, read a book, do a puzzle, snuggle with a pet, and return to your room when you feel sleepy again.
4. Eliminate naps
I know, I know. Many of you are probably going to stop reading this article right now because you hate me for telling you to stop napping, but hear me out. Believe it or not, if you are following all of these steps and maximizing quality sleep, you won’t even need them. And why sleep in the middle of the day when you can spend it doing better things like eating donuts? However, if you feel like you really need some shut-eye in the middle of the day, limit your naps to 20-30 minutes.
5. Put away all lights and substances
While watching an episode of Netflix before bed is a popular activity among us college students, it actually might be contributing to insomnia and poor sleep quality. Being exposed to the blue and white light given off by phones, computers, and TVs can cause our brains to block the release of melatonin, which is the hormone that releases the signal that it’s dark outside and time for sleep. So, put those phones away and pull out a good old fashioned book to read before you go to bed.
While this list may seem a little overwhelming, try to break it down and conquer one at a time. This will slowly but surely lead into a cycle of healthy sleep habits that will leave you feeling energized and healthy. Happy sleeping!