Sleep is one of the best things you can do for your mental, physical, and emotional health and wellbeing. Aim for 6-9 hours of sleep to:
- get the energy you need to manage stress;
- increase your memory, motivation, concentration, and problem solving skills;
- improve your motor skills and athletic performance;
- boost your immune system, helping you get and stay well during cold & flu season;
- support healthy eating habits and weight management.
It can be hard to get enough sleep. Improve your sleep hygiene with these steps:
- Unwind mentally. About half an hour before bed, enjoy a low-key activity such as reading or listening to music.
- Relax your body. Try meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Turn off all screens 30-60 minutes before bed. The light from backlit screens inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the afternoon and evening. These wreak havoc on your natural sleep cycle.
- Avoid eating heavy meals late at night. The digestion process wakes up our bodies and makes it harder to sleep.
- Block out noise. Silence your laptop and cell phone. If you can't control the noise in your room, try wearing earplugs or downloading a white noise app.
- Reduce light. Hang opaque "blackout" curtains with a tension rod, turn off any backlit screens, cover blinking lights, or try wearing a sleep mask to bed.
- Get comfortable. Make sure you aren't too warm or too cold by wearing appropriate clothing, or opening or closing a window.
- Create a routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to help your body get on a natural cycle. Exercising regularly helps too!
Communicating with Your Roommate
You and your roommate might have different schedules, preferences, or needs when it comes to sleep. If your roommate's schedule or habits are getting in the way of a good night's sleep, it's probably a good time to have a conversation about your needs regarding lights, noise, and late-night or overnight guests. Can you compromise or plan a schedule that works for both of you? If you need help working through these conversations, ask your RA for assistance.
Thoughts racing? Keep a notepad and pen by your bed. If you can't stop thinking about something, write down your thoughts, ideas, or concerns. You might make a To Do list for the next day. With your important thoughts safely written down, your mind can relax and drift off to sleep.
Lying awake, staring at the clock? Try a mindfulness or deep breathing exercise to help induce sleep. If you still cannot fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, get out of bed and engage in a relaxing activity such as listening to music, journaling, or reading. Return to bed when you feel sleepy. The anxiety of not being able to sleep may make it harder to fall asleep.
Sleep kits, containing eye masks, earplugs, herbal tea and information are available in the Health Promotion Office and the Wellness Center.
If you've tried the sleep hygiene tips listed above and still find it difficult to fall or stay asleep, and/or feel tired or not well rested during the day despite spending enough time in bed at night, you may choose to see a healthcare provider at Health Services. We recommend keeping a sleep diary for a week or two and bringing it to your appointment.