Common Sleep Problems and How to Beat Them

So, how many of you feel like you never get enough sleep?

*every college student on the planet raises their hand*

Yeah, we thought so. Sleep has a vital impact on your health and happiness. Making sure you get enough sleep can boost your mental and physical health, leading to an overall better quality of life.

And if you think an all-night study session is the key to getting ahead of your coursework, think again. Multiple studies have shown that sleep deprivation leads to large drops in testing performance, not to mention putting you at a higher risk for health issues if it’s happening over a long period of time.

Being in college can be rough on your sleep, but we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you take control of your sleep, improve its quality, and handle early mornings if you’re not a morning person.

Beating Insomnia

Alarm clock in foreground with a blurred sleepless man in the background.

This bad boy affects most people occasionally, but for some it’s a chronic disorder. There are many ways to handle insomnia and WebMD goes over a few good tips:

  • Limit Caffeine Consumption: You hear this one a lot, but for good reason. Caffeine can stay in your body for as long as 6-8 hours before even half of its stimulating effects are gone. It’s common knowledge to watch out for coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda, but also pay attention to medicine for headaches or cramps, which often have the stimulant. Even drinks labeled as decaffeinated may still have a small amount that is still enough to disturb sleep.
  • Create a Sleep Environment: It’s important your brain associates your bed with sleep. If you do your homework in bed or any other activities that require focus or cause stress, your mind may have trouble relaxing. Other factors should tell your brain it’s time to unwind such as darkness, quiet and a comfortable temperature.
  • Have an Evening Routine: A simple routine could be taking a shower, brushing your teeth and engaging in a type of relaxing self-care activity. You’ll want to avoid things that get you hyped up like fast paced music, exercise, and even eating before bed because it will take extra time for your body to get to a calmed state.

Sleeptime Snacks for the Hungry & Tired Student

Girl kneeling in front of open fridge full of food at night.

There are many foods that can help put you to sleep while also being a healthy snack if you find yourself waking up hungry. Simple foods like rice and pretzels have a high glycemic index and help tryptophan enter your brain to bring on sleepy waves.

Other things to eat that could help you sleep are different kinds of nuts like pistachios, walnuts and almonds. A glass of warm milk to help with you sleep is not an old wives’ tale - eating dairy products in like a cheese and cracker platter can help you sleep with the increased levels of calcium.

If none of those foods sound filling enough for your case of the munchies, a piece of peanut butter toast with banana slices on top is a great solution containing carbohydrates, protein, and potassium.

Early Mornings for Those Not-so-Morning People

Small dog sleeping in bed with alarm clock.

For the night owls among us, it can be a struggle to get up for those 7am classes. You already have a bedtime routine to help get to sleep, so we’ll walk you through setting up a waking routine to make those early mornings less painful.

  • Consistent Waking Time: Getting up every day at the same time is a good way to train your body to naturally wake up around that time. Your body becomes your own personal alarm clock, and as a bonus there will be less jolting awake to that annoying beep sound. Try setting your alarm earlier than you need to get up so you have a few minutes to mentally prepare for your morning routine.
  • Avoid the Snooze Button: But don’t set your alarm too early or you’ll risk falling into the dread snooze alarm cycle. If you fall back asleep, you won’t have time to complete a full sleep cycle and you’ll end up feeling groggy when it’s time to get up.
  • Put Some Joy in Your Mornings: Finding something you can look forward to in the morning is a great way to motivate yourself to get out of bed. Something like listening to your new favorite song while you get ready or your beloved morning cup of coffee.
  • Prep the Night Before: If you want to make things easier for yourself, pick out your outfit the night before and prep breakfast so all you need to do is heat it up in the morning and go.

Try implementing at least 1 or 2 of these tips for a few weeks and add on as they become new habits. You’d be surprised what a difference small changes can make in the long run.

Sources:

www.webmd.com/women/guide/insomnia-tips

www.rd.com/health/wellness/foods-that-help-you-sleep

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