Tips for better sleep

Carly Boens (TheLorian)

In the highly stressful and demanding world we live in, sleep often loses its priority. Many people do not get enough sleep in general, while others face difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. Often, college students wake up in the morning feeling tired and lethargic. While getting enough quality sleep can be difficult, there are techniques that can address the problem of sleeplessness. A lack of sleep can cause irritability and memory problems, and in regard to a more serious health aspect, can lead to potential obesity and heart disease. The desire for better sleep leads some people to use sleep medications, which can have many negative side effects. Sleep enhancing medications can cause dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, and drug dependency. Thus, it is best to find daily techniques that can lead to better sleep in a natural, healthy way.

Many sleep problems stem from circadian rhythm issues. Your circadian rhythm acts as an internal clock that releases melatonin, the hormone that prompts sleep. When this internal clock is misaligned, falling asleep and sleeping through the night can become difficult. There are several simple changes that can address this problem. Daily exercise is a great solution not only for your general health, but also for improved sleep quality. Exercising in the morning is a good way to help readjust your circadian rhythm, as it leads to better melatonin release later in the evening. Exercise at any time during the day is helpful for sleeping as long as there are around two hours between working out and when you go to bed.

Additionally, the environment in which you sleep is essential. While it can be difficult to sleep somewhere completely quiet and dark in college given the noise that comes with dorms and apartments, white noise can help create a more restful environment. It is also better to sleep in a cool room rather than an overly warm one. While it can be easy to use your bed to do homework or other work-minded activities, using your bed only for sleep and resting helps make it a sleep stimulating environment (Harvard Health Publishing).

The things you eat or drink before bed also impact the quality of your sleep. While going to bed hungry can prevent sleep, eating a full meal too soon before bed can also negatively impact sleep. Ideally, you should eat your last meal of the day between two to three hours before you go to bed. If you are hungry, a before bed snack that does not contain excess sugar, caffeine, or fat is best. On a similar note, caffeine and alcohol act as stimuli on the body, so doctors recommend avoiding these substances before bed. Caffeine should be avoided for between four to six hours before bedtime (Harvard Health Publishing).

If stress seems to be a large factor in why you have difficulty sleeping, consider adopting a new stress-relief technique as part of your bedtime routine. Meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, and many more practices can help relieve anxiety and lead to better sleep. While there is no clear-cut method that works for everyone, trying different approaches to see what works for you can be very helpful. Essentially, while getting a restful night of sleep can be hard, there are attainable tricks that you can try to help improve your rest.

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