Experts agree that aiming for eight hours of sleep per night is ideal. But during your years of University, when schedules are tight and time is scarce, the quality of your shut-eye sessions is often the first thing to suffer.
If you’ve been finding slumber elusive as of late, you’re probably not alone. Almost everyone experiences transient insomnia-the occasional inability to fall asleep or waking up feeling unrefreshed- but it’s easy to fix if you follow these tips:
Just say “no” to napping
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, your daytime habits might be to blame. Take napping for example: While it may seem logical to sneak in a few zzz’s during an afternoon slump, you’ll actually throw off your body’s clock and make it harder to drift off in the eve. Other rest robbers include caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Steer clear of coffee, cola, smokes and the sauce for several hours before bedtime, as they all make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
Exercise can also instigate insomnia if performed too late in the day. Working out wakes up the body, and aerobic activity close to bedtime will rev you up when you should be winding down. But don’t let that little fact deter you from hitting the health club altogether: Just be sure to exercise as early as possible so your snoozing doesn’t suffer.
Better your bedroom
If your sleep environment is uncomfortable in any way, the time you spend in dreamland will be drastically reduced.
Make sure your bed is large enough and comfortable. Disturbed by a restless bedmate? Invest in a bigger bed. Test different types of mattresses, pillows and linens to find your perfect fit. And once you’ve styled your ideal bed, designate it as a strict “sleep or sex” zone. Don’t lounge in your room doing schoolwork, paying bills or watching T.V. Your body needs to recognize it as a place for intimacy and rest.
Ease into zzz’s
Developing an effective pre-sleep ritual is the key to drifting off with ease. It’s best for your body to stick to a schedule, turning in and waking up at the same time, even on weekends. And don’t try to compensate for a poor night’s sleep by sleeping late the next day. You’ll disrupt your body’s rhythms and it could take awhile to get back on track.
Relaxing bedtime rituals can also help prepare you for sleep. Listening to soft music, take a warm bath, sipping herbal tea or taking a minute to meditate will tell your body it’s time for bed.
Still can’t sleep?
If you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night despite honest efforts to nix napping, build a better bedroom and unwind before bedtime, don’t distress. Worrying about not falling asleep can actually keep you awake. Get out of bed, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again. Avoid schoolwork, anything job-related, and stimulating T.V. programs and video games. Also be sure to keep the lights low, as bright lights cue your brain that it’s time to rise and shine.
If you find yourself struggling to sleep on a regular basis, consider hitting the sheets at a later hour so the time you spend in bed is spent sleeping. If you’re only getting five hours of sleep per night, figure out when you need to be up and subtract five hours (for example if your alarm is set for 7 a.m., go to bed at 2 a.m.) It may seem counterproductive at first, but it’ll help train your body to sleep consistently though the night. When your body establishes the bed/sleep connection, you can gradually convince it to sleep longer by adding 15 minutes at a time.
So say sayonara to siestas and stimulants, create a soothing sleep environment, unwind before you hit the sheets, and you’ll be in the land of nod in no time.