Finals are coming up and it seems as though stress levels couldn’t be any higher this time of the school year. If stress is something you are experiencing right now, it is likely that many aspects of your life are being impacted, one of these being your sleep.
You may believe that you can run on only four hours of sleep and compensate with coffee and energy drinks. However, you are not Superman (or woman). Unfortunately, you do not have the incredible power to do everything fueled by only a few hours of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that the average adult gets seven to nine hours of sleep a night. As hard as it may seem, strive for that range of hours this finals season in order to be at your best for those tests and papers!You can even make them some of the best sleep hours that you’ve ever gotten with these helpful tips:
Stick to a sleep schedule
This might be the most important strategy for getting better sleep. Get in touch with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. This involves consistently sleeping the same number of hours at the same times every night. Whatever schedule you find to work for you, seek to maintain it over the weekend in order to keep your body in sync.
Find a bedtime ritual
Try deep breathing and meditation, light stretching, or massage before bed to relax and wind down for the day. You can even try reading a few pages of abook to put yourself in that dreamlike state. Whatever you do though, avoid bright light of any kind (so say no to your smartphone) right before bed.
Avoid long naps
This one is pretty difficult to follow, coming from a hardcore nap-lover. But I can definitely attest to getting a better night’s sleep on the days that I refrain from taking a long nap. The more tired you are, the better you’ll be able to go to sleep and stay asleep at night. If you do take a nap, try to keep it to no longer than 15-20 minutes.
It’s proven that those who get regular exercise sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day. Exercise can also increase the amount of time that you spend in the good, deep restorative stages of sleep. The more vigorous the exercise, the likelier you’ll be able to reap the sleep benefits. However, even light exercise can improve sleep quality. Make sure that you’re not exercising a couple hours before you go to go to bed, though, as this can make it difficult to wind down for sleep.
And If you can’t sleep…
We’ve all been there. We’re lying in bed, wide awake, staring at the ceiling, trying to count as many sheep as we possibly can to force ourselves into deep sleep but nothing is working. In this case, the best thing to do is get out of bed, go to another room, and try doing a light enjoyable activity until you start to feel tired. For me, this is usually reading. Nothing puts me to sleep more effectively than reading my textbook. Also, avoid screens and bright light during this time.
Good luck with conquering those finals. May all the good sleep be ever in your favor.