We’ve all been there – sitting in a lecture with the professor droning as our eyelids grow heavy, and it becomes nearly impossible to stay awake. Our vision becomes fuzzy as we doze off – if only for a moment – before our chin slips off of our propped-up hands.
And who can blame us? College is a whirlwind of tests, reading and homework, all of which lead to late night study sessions, cups upon cups of coffee and manic trips to the library printers, all while forgoing much-needed sleep. Even when the weekdays of exhaustive work are finally over, we can’t always depend on the weekends to offer an opportunity for rest or relaxation.
It’s important to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with sleep, and the truth is that most of us could use much more sleep than we get. In conjunction with National Sleep Awareness Week, here are some tips to help you stay on track with sleep:
When you crawl into bed at night, don’t let thoughts of tests, errands and homework buzz around inside your head. Instead, clear your mind, take some deep breaths and picture the most soothing scene you can possibly imagine: An empty beach, peaceful mountains – anything. If you feel your mind start to wander, snap back to that peaceful place and force yourself to stay there, letting all of your worries and stress fade away. This may sound simplistic, but it works.
Bed is for sleeping, not working
Although it is tempting to snuggle up in bed on a rainy day to write a paper or do some homework, it could end up deterring your sleep cycle. By doing work or other non-sleep related activities in your bed, you will end up subconsciously associating your bed with these types of taxing activities, which will leave you tossing and turning come bedtime.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol can prevent you from sleeping properly. Although dousing yourself in coffee to gear up for late night studying may seem like a tempting idea, you will greatly regret that decision once you realize that catching any Z’s that evening will be nearly impossible. The same is true for alcohol; despite its reputation as a tranquilizer, it will end up preventing you from achieving a healthy slumber.
Turn off the TV
Many people claim that watching television at night is guaranteed to lull them to sleep. However, the flickers of light emanated by the television along with its muffled voices and cascading laughter will only disrupt any relaxation that you can muster. Not to mention that it will only fill your head with more bustling thoughts. Turn off the TV and enjoy the pure silence.
Use a fan
Attaining any sort of silence in a dorm room is far from easy with shrieks and shouts constantly bouncing around the hallways. Turning on a fan will help drown out that commotion with some white noise that can finally allow you to rest with ease. In addition to the comfort of silence, a fan provides coolness, which has been said to elicit an environment conducive to sleep.
If you’re tempted to turn to the TV to placate your restlessness, pick up a book instead – especially if it’s assigned for homework. Not only will you catch up on your work, but the duller its contents, the more effective it will be at putting you right to sleep. If reading for class doesn’t appeal to you, even reading a book you enjoy has its relaxing qualities. The slow, rhythmic movement of your eyes and the release of your stress as you immerse yourself in the story will help you to unwind and prepare for some rest.
A lack of sleep can lead to an endless list of health, emotional and memory problems. Don’t cheat yourself out of the sleep you deserve; it’s too important to sacrifice. These tips will allow you to catch all of those Z’s you’ve been missing out on, because, let’s face it, falling asleep in the middle of lectures isn’t the best look for you.
Erin O’Malley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.