As a college student at Saint Joseph’s University, I am juggling five classes to meet requirements, extracurriculars to add to my resume, a social life to keep me sane, and other responsibilities. All while in a pandemic. The stress that comes with this is not an experience unique to me.
It is safe to say that many, if not all, Saint Joe’s students can recognize the feeling of tired, strained eyes from staring at a screen til long hours of the night. Or the tossing and turning in bed, anticipating the test or presentation the next day. Eventually after shutting the laptop or wriggling around in bed, sleep comes, but only to be interrupted by the abhorrent sound of the alarm clock. The morning grogginess does not fade until a few hours later because the sleep was terrible. The cycle then starts all over again. There must be a way to break it right?
Being a college student, a good night’s rest is the next best thing to getting free stuff. It energizes you for the next day, thus getting everything on the to-do list done and maybe even more. Productivity is what college students strive for, sleep allows just that.
There is overwhelming evidence proving that sleep increases productivity. One study conducted on 4,188 U.S. workers found “significantly worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes” among those who got less sleep. It is important to get a good rest if you want to succeed.
My usual practice on trying to fall asleep includes the state of Mississippi. When I find myself tossing and turning, I begin to count, “one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi,” and so on. Before I know it, I am fast asleep. This is just one way that helps me fall asleep, here are some more ways that can help you experience better sleep.
- Turn down the temperature
- When you lie down, your body temperature drops, cooling down your body. If the room is too warm, falling asleep may be harder. The ideal temperature to fall asleep in would be 60 – 67º F. So turn down that thermostat before turning down for the night.
- Take a bath
- A warm bath or shower could help lower your body’s temperature, helping sleep come faster as the cool body temperature signals your brain to go to sleep. Bathing in warm water 1 – 2 hours before bed is reported to generate better sleep. A warm, cozy bath or shower is the simple price to pay for a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid naps
- Naps between zoom classes can be tempting. However, napping can negatively impact your nighttime sleep. 440 college students were studied, those who took at least three naps a week, those who napped for at least two hours, and those who napped between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. were found to have the least quality sleep at night. That being said, save those snoozes for later in the night.
- Set a schedule
- The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock that regulates alertness during the day and sleepiness at night. By setting a specific time to get up and a specific time to get to bed daily, your body gets used to the schedule, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Avoid electronics
- Blue light emitting from electronic devices has been found to suppress melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleepiness. Since electronics are used during the day when your mind is active, using them at night can keep your mind active. Ideally when falling asleep, you want your mind to be at peace. Putting away electronic devices before going to bed can ensure falling asleep faster. Don’t worry, you’re not missing out on anything.
- Limit caffeine
- You can still have your daily morning coffee, just be sure to finish your caffeine intake six hours before bed time. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it alerts your brain, making falling asleep difficult. Instead, opt for a soothing drink at night such as chamomile tea.
- Take supplements
- Though melatonin is naturally produced in the body, melatonin supplements can help regulate sleep schedules and are sold at drug stores. Follow the directions on the back and you’ll likely be back to a goodnight’s rest.