I honestly do not sleep. And not by choice! If it were up to me, I would be in bed daily at 10 pm. Snuggly & warm in the plushness of my duvet. However, this is not the case.
I am a self-diagnosed insomniac.
I feel like I often sound very dramatic when I tell this to people — but it really is a big issue. I don’t just lay in bed for an hour trying to fall asleep. I CANNOT fall asleep, almost every night of the week. My eyes are tired and I dream of my bed, I finally crawl in, turn off all the lights and just relax. I’m excited for sleep, want to sleep but does sleep ever come? Nope.
I lay there calculating the amount of sleep I will get if I fall asleep at that exact moment and the number quickly decreases. I contemplate waking up to do work, study for my midterm or even eat, anything would be better than this. But I just lie there watching the red numbers on my alarm clock & slowly fall asleep a couple hours before I need to wake up.
Sound familiar? I’m sure that I’m not the only one with this issue. Especially with classes at all hours of the day, late night shifts for tuition money, all nighters memorizing those two slides for your midterm tomorrow. Being a student, you likely have a messy schedule and sleep rituals are probably something you have no time to worry about.
Instead of having to frantically type: HOW DO I FALL ASLEEP into google at 2am, I’ve compiled some sleep tips. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But it’s a serious issue.
Go For A Run
Or a skip. Or a hop. Remember when you were a kid and the daycare teachers took you outside to play? That wasn’t just cause they knew you loved the sand pit and monkey bars, but because you ran all over the place and were perfectly tired when nap time came around. Think like that. While studying and essay writing is a lot of mind work, you’re not moving your body; you’re not tiring you body. Run a mile, go for a bike ride, attend a kickboxing class, skate at the mattamy athletic centre, or dance around your room; it’ll help you sleep.
Get some exercise any time of day. Even a 10- to 15-minute walk each day could help you sleep better.” — Dr. Russell Rosenberg, Chair, National Sleep Foundation
*Make sure that you’re exercising at least 3 hours before bed. If you work out right before getting in bed, your body might be too revved up to wind down.
Sleepy Time Tea
I’ve said this before, but my mum is english & I’m convinced that a love for tea runs in my blood. But besides my obsession, it’s really calming & a great first step to getting cozy & warm for your big sleep endeavour — just make sure you’re sipping decaf. You’d be surprised with the caffeine levels in green & chai teas. If you’re not one for the typical chamomile, DAVIDsTEA has a collection called Relaxation. I’ve tried all three teas, my favourite is Jessie’s, and think that it’s a definite way to spice up your bed time ritual.
*There is a DAVIDsTEA near campus. Go check it out, their tea selection is incredible.
(It’s across the street from Panera & beside Five Guys)
Turn It All Off
Make sure that your bedroom’s free of distractions. If your TV’s always on, cell phone’s lighting up, or your charging laptop’s flashing– you’ll likely be focused on that. Make sure that technology is away. No matter how tempting refreshing Instagram is, it won’t help you fall asleep. I’m bad at this one, cause I lay there trying to sleep & think hmm I wonder what’s up on Twitter. I have to remember that artifical light makes us more alert, preventing sleep.
If you really have to use your computer, to send a last minute email, read your class notes or finish the last episode of Orange Is The New Black: give yourself a good half hour/45 minutes afterwards to just wind down — without use of your technology.
Here’s 3 reasons, by Psychology Today, why technology before bed is not a good idea:
- The light from screens could prevent your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that is produced naturally in darkness and helps regulate sleep
- Reading exciting news articles or playing games keeps your mind very active, making it difficult for you to relax and be ‘ready’ to fall asleep
- Using these devices brings the rest of your life into the bedroom, and as I’ve said before, the bedroom should be a sanctuary reserved for sleep
Dim the lights one hour before desired bedtime and also turn off the screens one hour before bed. Light, including that from computers, iPads, TVs and smart phones, is the most powerful trigger for our neurotransmitters to switch to the ‘on’ position. If people have a tendency toward insomnia, they can be up for hours waiting to switch to turn off.” — Dr. Lisa Shives, founder of The Linden Center for Sleep and Weight Management in Chicago
Reading is something everyone tells you to do before bed — and you really should! It’s a good way to tire your eyes and also forget about the rest of the world. However, I once heard that you shouldn’t read an exciting, adventurous novel before bed because it could get you amped up, which might lead you to staying up even longer just to know how it ends. This is definitely me; I have to tell myself to stop reading because I get so into the story, I want to know more! Maybe in this case you should do some course readings. God knows we have tons of readings and something let plot driven might be the way to go!
If you’re reading a story that you can’t put down, make it your “daytime read.” Then pick a “bedtime book” that is less of a cliffhanger. A slow book will help your eyelids to get heavy, and chances are you’ll be asleep before you get to the next chapter.” — Allison Norton
This one sounds like common sense, but really — you need to unwind.
Here’s a few ways you can do that:
- Lie in your bed, with the lights off, a candle lit and relax your muscles. Start with your toes and slowly move up to your shoulders. End with your eyes. Feel each body part let go and sink deeper into your mattress.
- Invest in some lavender (oil, spray, cream etc.) & put it in your room/on your pillow/on your skin. The scent is soothing, relaxing and proven to help with sleep. I’m thinking about trying this lavender/chamomile pillow mist from Bath & Body Works.
- Find a relaxing playlist on 8tracks or YouTube — something natural like rain forest sounds, and practice deep yoga breathes. Lie down and notice your breathing. Feel your stomach rise and fall with every inhale and exhale.
While these may be things that you don’t normally do, it’s important that you unwind. If you want a good nights sleep, you need to de-stress and try to clear your mind of your daily business. Sleep is a time to restore and prepare for the day ahead.
As students, sleeping isn’t always the first thing on your mind — but don’t forget how important sleep is to your health. Find a routine that suits you & stick to it. Never avoid sleep, even if you have a crazy midterm in the morning — your brain will function better when it’s well rested.
Do you have any other suggestions for the sleepless? Let me know in the comments below! I need to learn how to sleep, because I can feel my productivity level dropping daily when I don’t get enough shut eye. It’s horrid.
I’ll leave you with this info graphic about why sleeping is so important!