Everyone remembers being a child, begging their parents to stay up that little bit later at night- “but it’s still bright outside, the next ad break please!” How things change. Most of us crave sleep, especially now that we’re grown up and actually have to do some work to get us through the week. Many students notice a significant change in their sleeping patterns when college life demands attention- late night cramming and partying have had adverse effects on the amount of sleep students have and need. But how much sleep is the right amount? And how does too little sleep, or indeed too much sleep, affect our health?
Insomnia, narcolepsy, night terrors and sleepwalking are all examples of sleeping disorders. How we sleep can impact on our mood levels, concentration and can even affect physical illness. Here are a few tips if you are having difficulty with your sleeping pattern.
Wind down after a hard day’s work.
Do something that relaxes you and allows your brain to wind down and switch off. Try watching some light telly, listening to some mellow music, having a bath or hot water bottle. Avoid anything too intense (horror movies, thriller drama, cold showers, coffee)
Don’t stress about tomorrow.
Whether it’s an exam, a presentation or even just an early start- the more you think about it, the less likely you are to have a good sleep. Quite often, the biggest fear is not getting enough sleep and as a result, performing poorly the next day. Try some relaxing techniques- tense all the muscles in your body and slowly relax them, starting from your toes and work all the way up to your head.
Physical exercise seems to be the answer to everything. But it’s true what they say; it really helps to clear your mind and physically tire you out. You don’t need to run five miles before bed, but research has shown that those who do regular exercise feel less lethargic and less anxious which leads to a better night’s sleep.
Try not to get too much sleep.
This can be quite common with students. You stay up late studying or on the internet and then end up sleeping half the day. The normal amount is between 7 and 9 hours a day (although some adults can survive on 5 or 6) but exceeding that level can lead to fatigue and even depression. Set an alarm and try to develop a regular pattern of sleep.
And finally... STOP PROCRASTINATING!
The bane of your student existence, procrastination seems to affect everything! Ever heard of being overtired? That’s because you’re procrastinating going to bed. Try planning your bedtime. If you don’t have a routine, try and get into one- even if it’s just as simple as brushing your teeth or looking after your skin. It’s much easier to go to bed that way than straight off the laptop.