Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep?

by Katie Bogusz on October 11, 2016

 

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Sometimes it feels like there is nothing better than a good night’s sleep. This is especially true when you find your schedule jam packed with classes, work, extracurricular activities, and other responsibilities.  Even if you are finding enough time to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night you can still have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.  Fear not though!  Here are some helpful tips on getting a better night’s sleep…

The Art of Napping

The nap, one of the most sought after and prized acts. Many find they are not able to nap, nap too often, or sometimes feel even more exhausted then they did before they took the nap.  In order to make sure you are getting the most out of your nap it’s best to keep them on the shorter side, between ten and twenty minutes.  This information has been confirmed by a study from Amber Brooks and Leon Lack of Flinders University, who found that, “Overall, the 10-minute nap was the most effective afternoon nap duration…for improving alertness and performance following mild nocturnal sleep restriction”.  Therefore it’s best to keep naps short to give yourself that quick energy boost.

But remember to always know yourself. If you suffer from insomnia it’s probably best not to nap during the day.  You want to make sure you are very tired when bed time rolls around.  Instead of napping, try doing some relaxing activities like yoga or deep breathing exercises to settle your mind.  Also make sure to know your schedule, if you usually go to bed early take a nap mid-day or if you like to stay up late take one later in the afternoon.  Naps can be a great tool, but always remember to use them wisely!

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How to wind down before you lie down

The thought of trying to fall asleep can strike fear in some, so how is it that some people can just hit the pillow and fall right asleep? One of the best ways to fall asleep more easily is by doing some activities to reduce stress before you go to bed and even throughout the day.  I know this sounds like a broken record, but try to exercise regularly.  It doesn’t have to be anything too intensive or time consuming, just going for a nice walk in the morning can be helpful.  But, make sure to do it three hours before bed time because you don’t want to have all that adrenaline pumping through you when you try to go to sleep at night.

Think of some activities that you do to relax and start doing them an hour or a couple of minutes before bed. Take a nice hot bath or shower, meditate, read a book, or drink some calming tea (without caffeine!).  Just try to make sure you aren’t looking at your laptop, tablet, or smart phone right before you go to sleep because the artificial light they emit actually makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.  Also if you find yourself worrying about everything (homework, work duties, deadlines, etc.) right before you go to sleep try keeping a “worry journal” next to your bed.  If you start stressing and worrying, write down what’s bothering you so at least it’s not all in your head anymore and the thoughts can be kept in the journal.

What NOT to do before bedtime

There are also some substances you should avoid before bedtime because they can affect how fast you fall asleep as well as stay asleep. Caffeine is a big one, make sure not to have any coffee, tea, soft drink, or food with caffeine in it after 3pm.  Although a lot of people enjoy their coffee, it’s best to stick with it during the morning and early afternoon hours.

Alcohol is another big one. Although alcohol does seem to make you sleepy at first, it is after all a depressant, it may make you wakeful later in the night.  It can also cause you to wake up earlier than you would like and it can negatively affect the amount of REM sleep you get at night.  So make sure to not drink too close to bedtime and not to drink in excess.

Nicotine is another a substance to avoid right before bedtime. Nicotine actually disrupts sleep more than caffeine does because it is also a stimulant.  Smokers take longer to fall asleep and find themselves waking up more often throughout the night.  So although there are many reasons to quit smoking, lack of sleep could be a big motivator!

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Feel ready to sleep tonight?

Try following some of these recommended tips because sleeping can have a large effect on your physical and mental health! Not getting enough sleep can negatively affect your memory, concentration, and motivation as well as putting you at a greater risk of stomach aches and headaches.  Like the BSU Outreach Education page on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and Twitter @bsuoutreach, and check out our calendar for upcoming events at: my.bridgew.edu/OutreachEducation.

Sources:

Brooks, Amber, and Leon Lack. “A Brief Afternoon Nap Following Nocturnal Sleep Restriction: Which Nap Duration Is Most Recuperative?” SLEEP 9.6 (2006): 831-40. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

 

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