By Megan Frei
Starting a new semester means less sleeping–in and more late-night coffee runs. Juggling work, study, and socializing in college is not an easy task, but your quality of sleep doesn’t have to suffer. Try integrating a few sleep-positive habits in your day-to-day student life, so you can reap all the important benefits of catching some much-needed z’s.
Experiment with aromatherapy
For a peaceful sleep routine, try using a diffuser! If you want recreate the soothing aromatic effects of a candle while you rest, without the risk of burning down your apartment, a diffuser is a cosy alternative. Most diffusers have a light setting, which adds a warm ambience to your bedside table. Put a few drops of an essential oil, which you can find at any local health food store, into a diffuser and feel yourself dozing off. Test out a few scents you enjoy or try lavender, clary sage, or valerian oil for sleep.
Challenge yourself to thirty screen-free minutes at night
Save for the occasional all-nighter, most days it’s helpful to have a nighttime ritual, which includes shutting down electronics thirty minutes before sleep. Although it’s recommended to turn off electronics one to two hours before bed, a more realistic goal for a busy student life is to aim for thirty screen-free minutes, pre-sleep. As students, we do everything on our devices, but try finding another bedtime activity that you find joyful. Shut off your devices and opt for a reading a book, enjoy a cup of herbal chamomile tea, pack your next day’s lunch, or listen to music. Replacing screen time with an activity you enjoy, helps you to wind down before bed without the stimulation of blue light.
Curb coffee cravings
The next tip goes without saying; limit your caffeine intake. Published studies have suggested that eating two dates as a snack provides us with a serious energy boost. Instead of a caffeine high to cure your 4pm slump, the sugar from a few dates helps to give you an instant lift and a generous helping of fibre. Cutting off caffeine by around 3PM is a good rule of thumb. Instead, pack a few dates for when your afternoon coffee craving hits.
Another snack-related tip for sleep is switching your sugary evening dessert for a more wholesome and filling option. If you like to have an evening snack or crave a dessert after dinner, try eating something like nut butter with an apple. Treating yourself to a combination of protein and fat after dinner both satiates and helps keep your blood sugar stable throughout the night, which is important in preventing broken sleep.
Create a routine
A crucial aspect of sleep is a regular bedtime. Although we all know we should, most of us don’t keep a regular bedtime. In reading a book and turning on a soothing diffuser, we are helping our bodies to relax and settle into a routine. If you need more assistance decompressing, consider a supplement or two. Melatonin is a really popular sleep aid, but long-term use can result in melatonin dependence. An alternative pro-sleep supplement is magnesium. Magnesium helps calm the brain and the nervous system. If you feel anxious at night and have trouble winding down for sleep, consider magnesium.
No two bodies are alike, but a few small positive changes could help with the difficult transition back to college. If you find habits that work for you, you’ll be more likely to stick to them. Challenge yourself to one week of a sleep routine and see if you notice any positive changes; I bet you will. Now, go to bed, sleepy head!