One thing every human being needs is sleep, and whether it’s restful or not, the process of falling asleep itself can be a huge task.
Trying to stop our brains from thinking is the worst. We think about upcoming exams in a class we’ve already failed or about that cute guy at the Wayside we met on thirsty Thursday.
The Central Michigan University Counseling Center knows college students struggle with sleep nightly, and has come up with some tips to help them learn to fall asleep faster, easier and longer.
1. Dim the lights
Studies show light cuts off the production of melatonin, a chemical your brain makes to help you sleep. Lights from cell phones, computers and televisions, though they might be low, can still interrupt the cycle because of the type of light.
“Insomnia feeds off the minor details in life,” said Peggy Clerc, senior administrative assistant at the Counseling Center. “Place an orange light bulb, available at home improvement stores, in your bedside lamp; its glow lets you read or relax without actively inhibiting melatonin.”
2. Chill out
With fall weather coming, it’s easy to crank up the thermostat. However, research shows it’s easier to fall asleep when it’s cooler in your room.
“Keeping your body cool slows down all of the metabolic processes, including the mental whirring that prevents you from drifting off,” Clerc said. “The worse your insomnia, the colder your bedroom should be.”
3. Ditch the alcohol
Everyone who has gone out drinking with some friends has experienced falling asleep quickly. However, they’ve also experienced waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep.
“After the initial tranquilizing buzz wears off, alcohol often results in more fitful sleep,” Clerc said. “A better pre-bed beverage: chamomile tea, which research shows might have a calming effect.”
4. Put the phone to rest
We all do it. We constantly check our phones for emails and text messages. However, the constant scrolling prevents our brains from relaxing. The Counseling Center suggests placing your smartphone out of reach at night and minimizing phone usage during the day.
5. Don’t just lie there
Research shows the more time you spend just lying there, the less you’ll appreciate your bed. The Counseling Center recommends a technique called sleep restriction, which might lead to more restful sleep.
“Calculate the number of hours you actually spend asleep, and then limit time in bed to no more than that,” Clerc said. “Start a routine that gets you up at the same time every day, even if it’s early and even on the weekends.”