8 tips for better sleep
Struggling to catch those much needed Z’s?
Not only can lack of sleep lead to poor concentration and low productivity in class, it also has long term effects such as the increased risk of cancer, heart attack, and Alzheimers. Read more about the risks of sleep deprivation here.
Whether you’re always hitting snooze or you’re falling asleep in class, here are some handy tips to get you sleeping like a baby.
1. Limit screen time
A harmless scroll through Instagram isn’t going to effect your sleep right? You eventually drift off. But when that alarm sounds the next morning you’re left feeling sluggish and less than ideal for your first period Math test.
Not only is screen time distracting from other routinely duties (like studying), it also plays a major part in sleep deprivation.
All digital screens whether it’s your laptop, phone, or TV contain blue light. Too much exposure to this blue light close to bedtime can leave you feeling groggy in the morning.
Luckily there are some ways you can prevent this.
If you really need to be on your phone after sun down, download the f.lux app. This alters the amount of blue light on your screen depending on the time of day. So, whether you’re on your computer at 10am, 10pm, or dare I say 3am, your screen colour will adapt according to the amount of light in the room.
Better yet, limit screen time altogether in the last two hours before heading to sleep. This will reduce eye strain and help you fall asleep faster.
2. Lights out
We’re humans, we aren’t supposed to be productive when the sun goes down and it’s natural that we start to get sleepy when it gets dark outside.
But having any light streaming into your room can impact your sleep.
So get dark! Invest in some black-out curtains to block streetlights, sleep with an eye mask on, or turn other lights in the house off before hitting the sack.
You’ll notice by blocking out these extra light sources, you’ll spend more time in a deep sleep leaving you feeling refreshed when that alarm goes off the next morning.
3. Have an evening bath or shower
Even if you prefer having shower’s in the morning, treating yourself to the odd evening shower or bath can help you wind down.
Showering before bed regulates your body temperature which helps relax your muscles and makes you sleepy.
Especially in winter, having a warm shower can really help you get cosy. Keep in mind, if you are usually a morning shower person, having two showers a day is unnecessary and bad for the environment (see our recent climate change resources). So, replace a couple of morning showers with an evening one to save on that water.
4. Get comfy
It’s a no brainer! Having a good pillow can revolutionize your sleep.
Upgrade from that cruddy hand-me-down pillow which you’ve used for years and invest in a memory foam or feather pillow.
Studies say your pillow should be replaced every 6 months, but a memory foam or feather pillow should be changed once every two years. So tell mum not to worry about paying the extra bit more because it’s an investment!
And that’s not the only thing you’ll need to replace. To ensure you’re bouncing out of bed each morning, be sure to wash your sheets and pillowcases every two-weeks. There’s nothing quite like rolling into bed after a long day and feeling those fresh sheets.
5. Clear your mind
It’s pretty hard to get some shut-eye when you’re worried about your Math test tomorrow or nasty school dramas.
So clear that head of yours! Put pen to paper and get journalling, listen to some peaceful music, or read a book to get your mind settled before lights out.
Or you could bust out that yoga mat and stretch those limbs before tucking yourself in.
Releasing this tension whether mentally or physically is so important, you don’t want to be carrying that worry to your bed- that’s how nightmares and restless nights happen.
6. Keep that puku happy
There’s nothing worse than stomach grumbles while you’re lying in bed. Make sure you eat enough dinner to keep that belly happy before you go to sleep.
It’s also really important you don’t eat too close to sleeping – your body needs time to digest that food before going into ‘shut down’ mode.
Studies have shown eating a big high-carb meal 3+ hours before bed is best for a good night sleep.
But most of us who get the midnight munchies will find a snack an hour before bed means we’re satisfied and sleepy.
It really is all about quality over quantity here though. Eating well means sleeping well- simple. Cut down on those $2 lollie mixes Red Bull’s and swap it out for a piece of fruit or herbal tea in the evening instead.
Any caffeine consumed after 12pm directly affects your sleep that night. Studies from Harvard Medical School suggest you should limit your caffeine intake at least 6 hours before you plan on heading to sleep. But if you feel the need of a pick me up, try to do so as early as possible.
7. Sleepy teas and supplements
Say you’ve had two-weeks straight of bad sleep and you’ve tried the six previous tips but nothing is working. Sleepy tea’s or supplements are great method to getting a restful sleep.
Try having a cup of herbal tea 30-60min before bed. But make sure you’re not drinking caffeinated tea (see tip 6). There are many ‘sleepy tea’s’ sold in grocery stores, pharmacies or tea stores like T2 which are specific blends made to make you…well sleepy.
If that isn’t your cup if tea you can also take supplements to assist in a better night’s sleep.
Don’t worry, they’re not like protein and pre-workout supplements which often get a bad wrap… these are natural supplements which are totally safe. Think of it like taking Berocca in the morning, only these supplements will make you relax rather than wake you up.
Magnesium supplements are really good for muscle relaxation, reducing migraines and anxiety, and… you guessed it better sleep.
So, if you’re regularly active or prone to migraines, try taking a magnesium tablet at night. They can be found in the vitamin section at groceries and pharmacies.
Another recommended supplement for good sleep is melanin.
Just like herbal tea, melanin contains antioxidants which when consumed act like mini superheroes in your body fighting viruses and regulating your night and day sleep-wake cycles. People with low melanin often suffer from insomnia and struggle with jet lag, this is where melanin supplements can be useful.
Please note- sleepy teas and supplements can clash with some medication. If you’re taking antidepressants, Ritalin or any other long-term medication ask your parents or doctor first.
8. Monitor your sleep
Finally, it’s hard to know why you’re not feeling ideal if you don’t monitor your sleep.
If you’ve got a Fitbit, wear it while you sleep and activate the sleep sensitivity function. This will tell you what your heart rate is, how many times you were restless during the night, and how much ‘deep sleep’ you’re getting.
But if you don’t have a Fitbit, no worries! Fortunately, there are so many apps available to assist in maximising our sleep.
One of the most common and successful sleeping apps is Sleep Cycle. Sleep Cycle has everything from audio monitoring to check whether you snore (great to know before flatting or moving in with your bf/gf), to alarm systems which gradually wake you up to ensure you wake when your body is at its lightest sleeping point.
By keeping tabs on your sleep you’re able to see how much you move or make noise during the night. This could give you an indication to a sleeping habit that you didn’t know you had, for example, grinding your teeth.
Sleeping apps are really valuable tools for assessing your sleep cycle all while you literally sit back and relax.
So there you have it, 8 tips to get you kicking back, relaxing and waking up actually feeling ready for that big test the next day.
Sure, when you were younger there was nothing cooler than to stay up all night, see how much you could annoy mum and dad by refusing sleep even though your eyelids struggled to stay open.
But now that you’re older and wiser, you know how important a good night sleep is. Now stop reading this and go get that shut eye!