While experts believe most Americans do not get sufficient sleep, university students are among the most sleep deprived in the population.
- You can’t will yourself to sleep, but you can do things to facilitate falling asleep and train yourself to fall sleep.
- Reserve your bed (or at least being under the covers) for 2 things – sleep and sex. Do not read, browse the internet, answer texts, or watch videos while in bed.
- Don’t let yourself toss and turn in bed for hours. If you are unable to fall sleep within a reasonable time (15-20 minutes) or when you notice that you are beginning to worry about falling asleep, get out of bed. Leave the bedroom and engage in a quiet activity such as reading. Return to bed only when you are sleepy.
- Caffeine: Avoid Caffeine 4 – 6 Hours Before Bedtime. Caffeine disturbs sleep, even in people who do not subjectively experience such an effect. Individuals with insomnia are often more sensitive to mild stimulants than are normal sleepers. Caffeine is found in items such as coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and many over-the-counter medications (e.g., Excedrin).
- Avoid screens for 1-2 hours before bedtime. The blue light in most computer, tablet and tv screens tells our pineal gland to stop producing melatonin and keeps you awake. If you can’t avoid the use of screens, utilize an app (e.g. Deluminate in the chrome browser) or program to reverse the screen so that you don’t have mostly a white background with dark text. It would be best to generally avoid brightly illumination.
- After a hot shower or bath your body starts to lower its temperature, triggering sleep.
- Daily exercise of 20 – 40 minutes a day will help you sleep. It is best to exercise earlier in the day.
- Eating: A Light Snack at Bedtime May be Sleep Promoting. A light bedtime snack, such a glass of warm milk, cheese, or a bowl of cereal can promote sleep. You should avoid the following foods at bedtime: any caffeinated foods (e.g., chocolate), peanuts, beans, most raw fruits and vegetables (since they may cause gas), and high-fat foods such as potato or corn chips. Avoid snacks in the middle of the nights since awakening may become associated with hunger.
- Alcohol: Avoid Alcohol After Dinner. A small amount of alcohol often promotes the onset of sleep, but as alcohol is metabolized sleep becomes disturbed and fragmented. Thus, alcohol is a poor sleep aid.
- Sleep apps from Healthline
Some interesting facts about sleep:
- After puberty, until about age 25 people need more sleep, often 9 – 10 hours/night.
- Decreasing sleep increases cortisol, which increases appetite, often leading to weight gain. Sleeping promotes weight loss for most people.
- We sleep primarily so that our brains can consolidate memory. It is difficult to learn when you are sleep deprived. (Some people believe that one goes to college in order to learn…)
- Everyone dreams a few times a night, though not everyone remembers their dreams.
- Most sleeping medications lose their effectiveness fairly quickly and many can become addictive.
- Some changes in sleep may be caused by psychological diagnoses, like depression. Make an appointment at the counseling center if you have persistant insomnia.