By Fiona Lee
This may shock you, but sleep hygiene actually has little to do with how much you sweat whilst you sleep. Shocking, I know. Sleep Hygiene is in fact the practices and habits that ae necessary to have a good quality night’s sleep. Despite how much we neglect it, a good night’s sleep is of huge importance to how we perform during the day.
Unstructured lifestyles are definitely a contributing element as students, but there are some things we can do to improve our sleep hygiene. It’s okay to not be entirely consistent with the little bits of advice I will lay out, being students, that’s just not realistic. Saying that, making small improvements in our sleeping habits can make a huge difference for our overall health, both now and in the long run.
The most important elements of sleep hygiene require the following for your bedroom: temperature (neither too hot or cold), darkness (the darker the better), quietness (silence is key) and a comfortable place to lie down and stretch out. If you manage to do this much, it is a very good start towards a good night’s sleep.
Create a routine: being students who either stay up all night doing assignments, going out, or mindlessly scrolling through newsfeeds, it’s hard to go to bed the same time every night. It is even harder to get up the same time every morning since our earliest lecture dictates our alarm clocks. However, if we could achieve this to the best of our ability, it would do wonders for the quality and consistency of our sleep schedules. Set a routine before bed too; wash your face, brush your teeth, meditate, read a book by soft lamp light, limit screen time for a period.
Sleep and nothing else: don’t dare do any kind of college work in bed, no matter how temptingly cosy it looks when an essay needs to be done. Beds are no place for anything of the sort, and psychologically speaking, it’s better to separate the environments for work and rest.
Limit certain substances and eat well: A healthy diet encourages higher quality sleep. Avoid eating heavy meals or sugary, fatty foods too soon before bed as it will upset your stomach to a point where a restful sleep is difficult. Substances like caffeine and alcohol should also be limited before bedtime. While alcohol may make you tired and sleepy, it does not support high quality sleep in the later hours of the night. Caffeine, of course, is a stimulant and should be avoided before a time of rest and relaxation.
Get some sunshine and exercise during the day: The more natural light you get during the day, the more your body is in tune with to the regular day-night cycle, and you learn to associate darkness with rest and sleep. Don’t be a shut in! Also, exercise during the day tires your body and helps you fall into a more restful sleep at night. You can pair these two by going for a morning jog before lectures. You will start the day feeling more energized and tired by the evening. It really can be done!
With all that in mind, an important thing to remember is to not stress when you just can’t fall asleep, you will eventually and worrying will only make it harder. However, if you try all of these things and more and still have difficulty sleeping, it is possible you have a sleep disorder or some other health issue. Keep a sleep diary and bring it to your doctor to get some help.
Image credit halfrain via Flickr