Lola recently graduated with her MA in English. After emigrating from England, she completed both the undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States. Lola has had an ongoing love affair with literature since she was two and is at her happiest with a cup of tea and a good book.
College can be stressful. There are tuition payments, homework, midterms, and finals to worry about. Some of you may be trying to hold down a part- or full-time job. If it’s your freshman year, you may be having a hard time coping with being away from your family, friends, or significant other for the first time. With all these stressors, it’s important to be able to get a good night’s sleep. Getting adequate sleep every night will improve your overall health, strengthen your immune system, make you more likely to reach for a healthy snack over a sugary morsel, keep your skin youthful and glowing, and make your full schedule seem a lot more manageable.
Here are some helpful hints for getting plenty of high quality zzzzzzs to get you through the tough stuff.
1. As tempting as it is to browse Facebook late into the night or to binge-watch television until 2am, being on your computer or cell phone shortly before going to bed can compromise your ability to readily fall asleep. Research has shown the blue light emitted by your computer or cell phone screen inhibits the production of melatonin – the hormone responsible for letting you know when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. When your melatonin levels are depleted, your sleep cycle gets thrown out of whack, making it increasingly difficult to get the sleep you need. Instead of scrolling through your Newsfeed before bed, read a book under warm, amber-based lighting. By nixing blue light before going to bed, you’re letting your mind unwind and telling your brain that you’re getting ready to fall asleep.
If you’re reluctant to give up your nightly social media or have an assignment you need to finish, there is software available that prompts your computer or phone screen to mimic natural light cycles.
2. While it’s sometimes difficult to stay on top of your laundry and keep your room clean when you have a million and one other things to do, keeping your room tidy and clutter-free can do wonders for your sleep. Studies indicate that a messy room can make other aspects of your life seem messier too, making it more difficult to clear your mind and distress before drifting off. This is especially true if you live in a compact space, such as a shared dorm room. Try making your bed in the morning so you can climb into neat sheets at the end of the day. Pick up the clothes that have started to take the place of the floor. Clean off your desk. You’ll be amazed by how much less chaotic busy times will seem and by how rested you feel!
3. Just like it’s important to keep your physical space clear to promote good sleep, it’s essential that you keep your mental space clutter-free too. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the things you have going on as a busy college student. When you lie down after another hectic day, your mind is probably running through all things you have to do tomorrow. There’s that paper you have to write, that test in two days that you haven’t even started studying for, and that shift at work that you still haven’t been able to get covered. Making a simple to do list or making notes in a planner will help you organize your thoughts and stop them from jumping around in your head. Bonus: You’ll get a lovely feeling of accomplishment when you cross an item off your list.To help you relax further and get you ready for sleep, you could light some candles, take a nice, long bubble bath (or a warm shower if you don’t have a tub), read a book, listen to some soothing music, or spray a little lavender-scented mist on your sheets. The calmer your mind, the better you sleep.
4. Eat a little protein before going to bed. Snacking on some protein-rich peanut butter or a small piece of chicken can promote great, uninterrupted sleep. Proteins, as opposed to carbohydrates, are digested slowly and allow a steady release of amino acids throughout the night. Your metabolism doesn’t have to go into overdrive (it’s trying to sleep too) and you’ll wake up feeling rested and ready for the day.