Sleeping is a luxury for college students. When you’re busy all day and then up all night being busy with more things, sleeping becomes the least important thing to do with your time. Sleeping for less than 8 hours is like a badge of honor that you can brag about the next day, and sleeping for longer than that must mean you’re lazy or sick or on something. College students need more time to sleep than we give ourselves. Check out how much shut eye you should be getting here from the Sleep Foundation.
“Sleep is for the weak” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” are things I’ve whispered to myself as I sit hunched over a laptop in some forgotten corner of a study lounge, typing with one hand and clutching a cup of tea in the other. Even when I don’t have anything to do at night, I find myself staying up at least two hours later than necessary. I’ll lay down in bed at a reasonable time, and then it’s 2:00am and I’m still rewatching “Parks and Recreation”, forcing myself to keep my eyes open until I actually fall asleep and wake up abruptly to Leslie Knope being excited about waffles.
Part of this problem is my terrible sleep schedule from the summer carrying over to the start of the school year, and the other part is my addiction to always be doing “something”. I spend so much time looking at screens sometimes that I get a headache, but it just feels too weird not not be entertained or busy.
Here are some suggestions I have for getting more than three hours of sleep (because you really should):
Journal- Something most people have trouble keeping up with. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on the day and focus on yourself. When I’m running short on time or just don’t feel like writing a ton, I make bullet points of whatever comes to mind when I think about my day. Sometimes if you’re stressing about something or regretting an awkward situation, writing it down gets it off your chest. If your thoughts are keeping you up all night, turning it into something more productive, like a journal entry or even a sketch, can help!
Be active (during the daytime)- Do something that involves moving; take a walk before bed, stretch, do some yoga, run a 5K, whatever suits you. Fresh air can help clear your mind and burn off some extra energy so you can get to sleep faster.
Download f.lux- I discovered this at the end of my summer and I’m so glad I did. It’s a program that adjusts the brightness of your computer screen to mimic the light you’re in. During the day your computer is at the usual brightness, but based on your timezone, which you program into it, f.lux automatically adjusts the lighting of your screen to be easier on the eyes. Without such a bright screen at night, I don’t spend as long watching it before falling asleep. It also helps me be more aware of what time it is- when the screen gets slightly darker, that’s my cue that it’s getting late, (so no more realizing at 11pm that I’ve been on Tumblr for six hours). It’s really easy to use, because you don’t have to do anything, and it has an option to turn off the screen dimming (temporarily) if you need to do something color-sensitive. Check out the f.lux website (where you can download it for free) here.
Anticipate the next day- I get worried about how I’m going to fit everything into the next day and catch myself staying up late to try to mentally plan everything. To fix this, I make sure to “map out” my day on my whiteboard before I get ready to sleep. It’s a chance to review what I need to get done and check for any events I may have the next day. Write a list of what you need to do and give everything a time that you’ll do it within your schedule and really try hard to stick to it. Seeing that I can write a rough draft, go to two meetings and all my classes, and see Allison for dinner, on paper helps me stress less about being busy.
Try not to work in your bed- This is something I feel like I was told a lot growing up, but at college it becomes very difficult when your bed is the main spot you have to work in. Associating your bed with being awake takes its toll on your sleep schedule.
These are just some things I’ve been doing lately that have been working for me, so they might work for you too! There are a lot of reasons people have trouble sleeping at night. For me it’s just general stress, but for others it can be something more serious. If you find yourself extremely anxious and little tricks like yoga and writing out your schedule aren’t helping, reach out to someone for more support- you can check out more resources here!
Busy people like Leslie Knope are admirable, but it’s also important to “treat yo’ self” to sleep!
Note: Image is not ours- it was found here.
As an avid fan of homeopathic remedies, I've curated a small list of the herbs and plants that you need to start using.
Lavender is super calming and can help you relax. If you can't find fresh or dried lavender, try to find a lavender tea, or hand soap and air freshener with lavender in it.
Aloe is great for skin. It soothes bug bites, sunburn, itches, and is very hydrating. An aloe plant is super low maintenance, and you can just break off a leaf for the healing benefits, but if you're not up for plants, find an aloe gel or lotion with aloe and your skin will thank you.
Chamomile helps induce sleep. Try to find a tea with chamomile to drink before bedtime, and you'll likely find yourself sleeping better.
Mint is very refreshing. Both spearmint and peppermint help create energy and also help with memory and retention of thoughts. If you can find fresh mint at the supermarket, you can add it to your water and other beverages. If not, Mint tea is a great option, which can even settle an upset stomach. In a pinch, try chewing mint gum while studying or in class. Lip balms with peppermint are especially good for healing chapped lips because the mint provides increased blood flow to the area, promoting healing.
Eucalyptus is also energizing and can help pick you up during a mid day lull. Try a shower gel with eucalyptus for the morning, or a lotion to keep in your bag or in your desk.
Ginger helps settle upset stomachs. Try a ginger tea or cooking with ginger root. There are also ginger chews for people with frequent indigestion.
Rosemary is another great energizer. Add this to your water as well for a boost during the day.
Today (9/10/15) is R U OK? Day- a day created and celebrated in Australia but something I think worth spreading! R U OK? Day is a day to recognize the importance of a conversation and checking in with family, friends, roommates, neighbors, acquaintances, anyone you know and ask how they’re doing in a meaningful way.
This day promotes mental health and suicide awareness because of how powerful a conversation- even one over text- can be. As the creator of this day, Gavin Larkin, says "Getting connected and staying connected is the best thing anyone can do for themselves and for those who may be at risk.” R U OK? Day was created in 2009 and has since been celebrated on the second Thursday of September.
So today and every day ask how people are doing. Whether it’s telling someone a funny joke you heard or opening up and being honest with someone you trust about something you’re struggling with, it’s good to connect with other people. It’s a wonderful way to show people that you care about them, and everyone could use a reminder that there are people who care.
For more information or resources click here and follow @ruokday on Twitter.