Some college students find that the hardest part of the day is not necessarily the activities and obligations, but more so, settling down and quieting the mind. When you stop moving, unwanted thoughts tend to creep in and distract you from trying to relax. It is a constant battle to stop your brain chatter.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy sleep habits are often referred to as good “ sleep hygiene.” However, in a college environment, good sleep hygiene is not always easy to put into practice. Bedtimes can vary, and sleep is normally something that plummets to unhealthy levels once the semester gets going. In an ideal world, we would have a set bedtime and wake-up-time with the perfect amount of sleep factored in. As healthy and beneficial as that would be, it is simply unrealistic for college students. What is realistic however, is finding a bedtime ritual or routine that mentally prepares you for a deep, and sufficient sleep.
Follow These Five Tips To Develop Healthy Sleep Hygiene:
1. Organize your thoughts. Write them down on paper so you can take those busy, stressful worries out of your mind. The physical act of transferring your thoughts to paper can really alleviate the stress. Look at your list the next morning and attempt to tackle them then.
2. Decorate for the purpose of sleep. An organized and clean bedroom can automatically make you feel relaxed the moment you enter. Kick out the clutter and unwanted miscellaneous items that accumulate over time. Get pillows with a quote on them or those with a solid and tranquil color. Hang a focal print for your wall or a picture that brings you back to a happy place. Try to keep your colors more neutral and subdued because bright colors can stimulate the brain.
3. Try putting away your electronics. Silence them, and set them across the room so the temptation to use them is lessened. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, light plays tricks with our minds. The specialized cells in our retinas notify the brain whether it is daytime or nighttime. The light from our cell phones and electronics tells our brain that it’s “daytime” making it hard for the brain to shut down and ignore the signal.
4. Tune into your senses. Scents stimulate the brain to release hormones and neurochemicals that can alter the body’s physiology and actions. Specific scents can be translated to the brain in ways that affect heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, and stress levels. Use a lavender pillow spray, a scent known to help sleep because it triggers specific responces that make for a calm deep sleep. Lavender is linked to stress relief, and brings a soothing feeling to the body and mind.
5. Tune into your breath or a constant noise that acts as a sound neutralizer. The constant spinning of a fan, the faint clicking of a clock or even the breathing of your roommate can help you focus on one thing, clearing the mind clutter and eventually drifting into sleep.
Adopting these techniques can make for a sound sleep routine. Allow yourself some extra allotted time before bed, to reflect on your day and ease quietly into a new sleep pattern. The result will be a more calm, productive, and positive you.
Photo Credit: Sammy Gitlin