Sleeping difficulties aren’t exactly uncommon amongst college students, whether it’s from late nights of partying, binge watching a Netflix show or pulling all-nighters to get that final assignment submitted by the deadline. But there’s a fine line between fatigue from poor choices and from general sleep disorders. As someone who suffers with vivid dreams and sometimes nightmares that make it sometimes impossible to sleep, I’m here to give you some of the tips and tricks that help me survive day-to-day without passing out from exhaustion.
- Make Time for Relaxing & De-stressing
This is one you’ve probably heard a hundred times before but trust me, making sure you have anything from 10 minutes to and hour to do something that keeps you calm or helps you to relax can have a MASSIVE impact on how well you sleep. Whether it’s reading a chapter of your favourite book or spending some time talking to your mates, taking some time to do what you love can help your body and mind to relax and, in turn, can make it easier to fall asleep.
- Put away your phone!
Our generation has a nasty habit of being glued to our phones. Come on, don’t deny it, we all know it’s true. We also have a habit of using our phones just before we go to bed and all I can say is, bad idea. The blue light from our screens triggers chemicals in your brain to keep you awake and alert, which is the exact opposite of what you need before bed. Try to limit your phone usage before you go to bed, maybe by not using it in the final hour before you go to sleep, and try to read a book or meditate instead. You’d be surprised how much it helps!
- Try not to eat or drink right before bed – especially caffiene!
All of us are guilty of some late-night snacking. Come on, it’s college and if we’re studying till 10pm at night, we’re obviously hungry and want a little treat after all our hard work. However, this can have an affect on our bodies when we’re trying to go to sleep. Our body’s are still digesting the food we just ate which can keep our minds alert and in turn, keep us awake. Try not to eat or drink caffeinated beverages after 6 or 7pm in the evening for a better nights sleep.
- Naps are okay – in moderation
Most people who struggle with sleeping at night (myself included) have a tendency to nap during the day, and naps are okay…in moderation. Some people nap during the day for hours at a time and then wonder why they’re wide awake at night unable to sleep. If you’re napping during the day, limit it to a 20-30 minute nap once a day. If you sleep any longer than this, REM will kick in and you’ll be left feeling even more tired than you were before you fell asleep.
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day
Routine is very important when it comes to getting a good nights sleep. I know some days you may have 9am lectures and the days you don’t or at the weekends you want a lie-in, and that’s okay! By all means, have an extra hour of sleep every so often but try not to stay in your bed asleep until 2pm. If your body associates certain times with sleep times, your body clock will adjust and release specific hormones to make you sleepy which, in turn, will help you to sleep.
- Limit your caffeine intake
While having a coffee in the morning or an energy drink at lunch isn’t all that bad an idea to boost your energy levels, having more than one dose of caffeine a day is what you should really limit yourself. Coffee and energy drinks aren’t the best sources of energy, nor are they the greatest for your health, and should be taken in moderation. And if you cant sleep at night, I wouldn’t recommend having an energy drink or coffee after 5pm in the evening. Yes, you may have them for pulling all nighters but please, for your own sake, don’t make those all nighters a regular thing!
- If it persists, ask for help!
If doing all this still leaves you tossing and turning in your bed at night with little to no sleep, then maybe it’s time to ask for help. Whether it’s turning to a friend, a parent, a member of staff here in UL or a doctor, every little helps! You’d be surprised how much talking to someone about it can help! Below are the times, locations and contact info for the Counselling Service and the Student Medical Centre here in UL, two facilities filled with people always willing to help a student in need!