Fortunately, after talking with countless students about this issue, it’s good to know that they often value the relationship between sleep and how they function emotionally, cognitively and physically. They understand that the price to pay for poor sleep is huge. But taking action is another story. What can we do to help them take action that works?
First, get perspective about sleep
- Remember, we sleep for 1/3 of our lives. It is that important.
- We need a simple definition of good sleep. To me, good sleep is simply restful sleep. So the question to ask is, “how restful is your sleep?“
- Our modern world has thrown our circadian rhythms out of whack! For the first time in human history, we can have bright artificial light, after dark. Practical use of light bulbs didn’t even begin until the early 1900s. Before that we would have only had dim fire light at night, and this change has had a tremendous effect on humans. And the light emitted from electronic devices after dark is especially disruptive since it signals the brain that it is still daytime.
- The pineal gland makes melatonin, critical to falling asleep. Darkness signals this gland to produce melatonin so we can sleep, light signals it to stop so we can wake up. This regulates the circadian rhythm, which is designed to help our bodies sustain healthy patterns. Our brains are confused!
- Some people have problems with onset insomnia, where it takes too long to fall asleep. Some have middle insomnia, where they wake too many times during the night. Some have terminal insomnia, where they wake up too early (this has been my biggest problem). Knowing which one you struggle with will help you personalize the solutions below.
24 Tips to better sleep
For me, the solution has been a combination of many small things that add up to a better night’s sleep. Here are some easy things you can try to see what works for you:
- Make sure the temperature in the bedroom is right. It should be a bit cool, about 68 degrees.
- Find ways to get the room to be pitch dark at night.
- Keep pets out of the room if they interrupt sleep.
- If there are sounds that wake you up, figure out how to get rid of the noise or consider white noise (a fan for example).
- Figure out how to make the bed more comfortable.
- Pick a consistent bed time and wake time. Post your routine until it becomes habit.
- Put the alarm clock as far from you as possible so you have to get up to turn it off. This will help you wake up more fully.
- Cover all light sources (even the clock if possible).
- One of the best tips I can give you is to just make a rule to keep all electronics out of the bedroom, always. At the very least, do not use a tv, cell phone or computer 1 hour after sunset. The blue light emitted from these tell the brain to stay awake.
- Do not ingest anything with caffeine.
- Do less stuff! If your schedule is packed, it’s ok to let things go, especially if it affects your health.
- Think too much? Journal for 5 minutes every night before bedtime.
- Keep a notepad by the bed to list any important to do items that are spinning around in your head.
- Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed.
- No drinking before bed or you may have to wake up to use the bathroom.
- Use a consistent wind-down routine to get yourself ready for bed.
- Some people sleep better after eating a tablespoon of almond butter, taking magnesium at bedtime or taking melatonin (I am not a big fan of melatonin because I want my body to produce it more naturally).
- Get plenty of exercise during the day. This is critical.
- Try 4-7-8 breathing. This works well for me. Breathe in for 4 seconds, pause for 7, exhale for 8.
- Meditate regularly. This helps regulate every system in the body.
- Try different sleep positions and take note of how you sleep best.
- Use tools to quiet the senses. Try a sleep mask, ear plugs, a weighted blanket, etc..
- Short naps can help some people sleep better.
- Make the bed and clean the bedroom. Clutter makes it harder to sleep.
Note: Always keep in mind that there may be serious issues going on behind the scenes that may be affecting sleep. If you think something may be going on, do not hesitate to see a professional so you cna get the right help.
Now go take action!
Implement a ew of the suggestions right now! You’ll sleep better tonight and feel better tomorrow. Feel free to print this and use it as a guide. And if this helped you, please share it (try a share button below).
What works for you? Share in the comments below.