We’re essentially glued to our screens from morning until night — whether we’re cramming for a midterm, finishing up an assignment that’s due at 11:59 pm, or constantly refreshing the Walmart website to see if the PlayStation 5 is in stock. Especially when we can attend classes from the comfort of our beds, getting the right amount of sleep may be challenging.
Getting a good, restful sleep at night can foster a healthy lifestyle that promotes exercise and healthy food consumption. On the flip side, not getting adequate sleep can lead to side effects such as a decline in brain function, weight gain, and negative hormonal changes. Too much sleep can be harmful too: it can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, for example.
Here are some great ways to ensure you get the best sleep possible.
Limit your blue light intake — especially in the evening
Your phone, computer monitor, and TV emit large amounts of blue light, which can impair your circadian rhythm — the internal process that regulates your sleep schedule — at night, reducing the production of important sleep hormones, such as melatonin. To prevent this, you can purchase glasses that essentially block blue light, or use apps on your phone that limit blue light. Reducing exposure to bright lights around two hours before bed can also be beneficial.
Cut down the caffeine!
As hard as it may sound, cutting down caffeine intake four to six hours before bedtime can improve sleep. It is common knowledge that caffeine is a great way to keep you awake, so, of course, not having any in the period before bed is a good idea. Try limiting your caffeine intake to before noon.
No more late-night snacks — or meals
Those late-evening strolls down to the fridge and cupboard to indulge on your favourite snacks may impact your sleep. A large meal before bed can impair sleep quality by interfering with melatonin release, so maybe stay in bed instead of reaching for that box of cereal.
Create a good sleep routine
If you’re like me, you often check the clock throughout the night to see what time it is. This unfortunate habit can lead to increased stress and actually hurts your ability to fall asleep. Furthermore, reading a book, doing a relaxation exercise, and using comfortable, good quality bedding can all promote a healthy, good night’s sleep.
Get out of bed!
Try separating your comfort spaces from your workspaces to prevent yourself from getting sleepy during the workday or being wide awake at night. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School advises people to “keep computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room [to] strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.” This means that a conflation of work and relaxation spaces may mean that both pursuits suffer.
All in all, during these stressful times, sleep is important to stay happy, healthy, and focused on school. Good luck and happy sleeping!