Hey Emma! Not sure if this is study related but I'm in uni and have a really tough time getting to bed early - I find all ways to procrastinate going to bed until its 2 or 3 am and its ruining my life and ability to study! Any advice?
Hellooo! This is me too haha! I’m obsessed with the Most Popular Girls in School on YouTube and I end up watching episode after episode :’-)
When I was writing for The Academic Zine, I did an article about sleep hygiene and some tip on getting yours on track. I’ll copy and paste it below so you can have a read!
1. Plan your ideal sleep routine. The first step to improving your sleep hygiene is to make a plan. While a few early nights can get you started, fixing your sleep hygiene will not be instantaneous. If your internal body clock is out-of-sync such that you only feel tired at midnight, getting sleep is bound to be a tough process. We suggest making small and manageable goals.
Start by setting a goal, such as getting ready for bed half an hour earlier or reading a book instead of checking your Tumblr. Make adjusting your sleep pattern more enticing by tracking and monitoring it. Downloadable phone applications help gamify your attempts to improve your sleep patterns, giving you more motivation. They offer information including your movements during the night, how your day affected your sleep, and the progress you’ve made. If you don’t want to use your phone while you sleep, make a habit tracker. We all know the pleasure of crossing off another day of the month that you managed to stick to a new habit.
2. Turn your room into a sleep sanctuary. In order to sleep comfortably, it is important to make your bedroom a calming environment. Avoid studying in your bedroom or at least on the bed. Constantly using the bed for studying will weaken your brain’s association between being in bed and sleeping and instead associate it with working. Make the effort to use a desk or another room for studying so when your eyelids are drooping, you can go to your room, remove yourself from any stresses you’ve had, and take time to relax and recharge.
Get your sanctuary started by adjusting the light, temperature, and noise level. Use curtains or black-out blinds to make the room completely dark. If there is unavoidable light, you can try using a sleep mask. As the seasons change, it is natural to kick off the sheets or wrap up extra snuggly. However, if waking up because of temperature is a regular occurrence, take that as a sign to make a change. Try adding or removing a blanket, change your type of pajamas, and/or place a heater in the room on a low heat setting.
3. Prepare for the next day. As a student, I know how it feels to be tossing and turning because you’re worried about the next day. The easiest way to calm a racing mind is by preparing for the day ahead before going to bed. Small ways to prepare include organizing your bag, charging your phone, laptop, or tablet, and updating your planner or bullet journal.
4. Take time to relax before bed. After a stressful day or long study session, getting into a relaxed and calm mood is the best way to prepare your mind for sleeping. Taking the time to destress can help to reduce the feeling of anxiety by detaching your mind from the events of the day. You can try reading, journaling, drawing, doing yoga, or taking a warm shower. Make it a habit to put a relaxing activity at the end of your to-do list so you can finish the day on a positive note. Finding an activity that helps focus your attention, calm your mind, and that you enjoy can be perfect for a bedtime routine.
5. Things to avoid. Right before your head hits the pillow, it is best to avoid things like using your computer or phone for extended periods of time and consuming any substances like caffeine or alcohol. While it is always tempting to watch just one more episode of your favorite show before going to bed, the screen can make you feel more awake. The time gap between exposure to light and your bedtime impacts the melatonin in your body, which is the chemical that signals drowsiness and makes you feel tired.
6. Exercise during the day. Exercise is not only good for your mental and physical health but also your sleep quality. Studies have shown that people who exercise the recommended amount per week had significantly higher quality of sleep, felt more energized during the day, and had improved concentration when they did feel tired. Make the effort to have at least 150 minutes of exercise during the week. Try taking a walk, going to the gym, or joining an exercise class. It is best to finish any strenuous physical activity a few hours prior to going to bed. If you exercise before sleeping, any energy you didn’t direct towards the workout will keep you feeling alert rather than sleepy. Light activity such as yoga or mediation is recommended as a late night workout.
7. The art of napping. Napping was one of the best parts of childhood, right? Now it seems when you accidentally fall asleep you feel worse than you did before. That’s because you’re either not napping for long enough or waking up during the deepest part of the sleeping cycle. How much is the right amount?
- 1- 5 minutes (micro naps): great for having a small boost of energy and stopping that sleepy feeling.
- 10-20 minutes (power naps): enhances alertness and concentration, elevates mood, and sharpens motor skills. Coffee takes 20 to 30 minute to take effect so if you want to boost alertness, have a cup before napping.
- 45 minutes: helps to boost energy, creative thinking and boosts sensory processing. Try setting an alarm to avoid the feeling of sleep inertia, grogginess, and disorientation which comes with the next phase of sleep.
- 90 minutes: clear your mind, improve memory recall, and recoup lost sleep. By waking up after 90 minutes you’ll avoid the feeling of sleep inertia as you wake up from REM sleep.
8. Hack your sleep. Technology can make your sleep pattern more enticing by tracking your progress. Numerous apps available from the App Store or Play Store offer ways to see how your body responds through each phase of the sleep cycle. Try Sleep Cycle, Sleep Genius, or SleepBot. If you own a FitBit, try wearing it to bed. The app can set sleep goals, set an alarm, and track your sleep quality. Sleep calculators are also available (e.g. http://sleepyti.me) and allow you to nap without worrying about feeling groggy afterwards.
9. Avoid making a habit of all nighters. It is best to limit the number of times you are staying up all night even if it seems the only way to meet a deadline. Try using different time management methods – such as the Pomodoro technique – to avoid staying up all night. Making a habit of all night working sessions can, over time, decrease your concentration and result in poorer long term memory. If sacrificing sleep is the only way to meet a deadline, it is best to do it right. Try these tips:
- top up your energy – take a nap, stretch a little, or drink a coffee.
- eat protein – when you’re working hard, your body needs something to burn. Despite the tastiness of carbs, they store energy for later and can make you sleepier in the long term. Try including meat in your evening meal, or snacking on nuts and seeds.
- move around – make an effort to take a break every now and then. Get up, stretch, move around, and reinvigorate yourself with energy.
- music – keep yourself alert with some tunes. Instrumental songs or movie soundtracks often promote productivity and focus. If you’re feeling sleepy, put on your favorite song and have a silent sing along to get you back in the mood!
- remove all distractions – if you’re texting a friend, watching a TV show, or checking your Facebook whilst attempting to finish a task, you’re wasting time. Having 20 minutes of concentration, followed by a 5-minute break, will be more effective than pausing every few minutes to reply to a message. If you use the Pomodoro technique, you can utilize your breaks to do this.
- focus on one thing at a time – keep your concentration there until it’s done or it’s time to take a break. Multitasking when it is late will reduce your attentiveness to one task and could therefore reduce the quality of your work.
- work at a desk – as aforementioned, avoid making a habit of using your bed for work. All-nighters are probably most comfortable in bed but after continuous use you’ll feel instantly more sleepy and unproductive as your brain is associating your bed with sleeping and relaxing. If you have a desk you can use during a late night work session, be sure to use it.
- reward yourself the next day – after pulling an all nighter you need to recentralize your internal body clock. If you’re feeling tired, make an effort to go to sleep slightly earlier. Try taking a few hours to relax and do something you enjoy.
10. Stop mourning your mornings. Not everyone is a morning person, especially if you’re waking up super early. Setting a motivational routine can improve your morning mood. Set an alarm that doesn’t interrupt your sleep cycle. Sleep Cycle, as mentioned previously, wakes you up when your body is most alert which means the feeling of sleep inertia is reduced. When you get up, take two minutes to stretch. Allowing your body to stretch out after a long night sleep helps to rejuvenate our ligaments and release any tension in our joints. Washing your face with cold water or taking a shower help to make you fresh awake and fresh. Whether you eat straight away or get ready, make an effort to maintain your routine.
I hope this helps! :-) xx