sleep illustration

(Amber Juarez / Daily Titan)

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule can be difficult, especially as a college student. However, keeping a consistent sleep schedule is vital to a healthy lifestyle. Not getting enough sleep can lead to serious health problems. Try these tips to get your sleeping schedule back on track. 

Have a consistent routine 

Plan out your days and have a set schedule when you go to bed. Try to keep this consistent routine even on the weekends. Regardless of what day it is, it's best to have a consistent bedtime so that falling asleep becomes easier and faster. With a set schedule, keeping yourself busy throughout the day can also help tire you out once it's time for bed. You can do this by incorporating light exercise, such as gentle aerobics, into your daily routine to promote better sleep. If you like intense workouts, avoid working out an hour before bedtime. Instead, it is best to exercise one to two hours before bed. 

Go outside in the sunlight 

Exposure to sunlight at the start of your day can facilitate falling asleep, as well as improve the quality of your life. So instead of sleeping in, go outside for a walk, ride your bike or go to the beach and soak up the sun. 

Avoid naps and all-nighters 

Taking naps longer than 30 minutes throughout the day can make it difficult to sleep at night. But if you genuinely need a nap, it's best to take a power nap. A study conducted by NASA shows that the perfect power nap is 26 minutes. Power naps can also be beneficial because they help alleviate stress and increase your alertness. For those that like to pull all-nighters, know that staying up all night will not help reset your sleeping schedule for the next day. Instead, all-nighters will disrupt your routine and quality of sleep even more. That being said, staying up to study for an exam or to do homework will only ruin your day and leave you sleep deprived. 

Prep your sleeping space 

The best way to prepare your sleeping space is by turning off all the lights in your room (including the light from your phone) and reducing any noise. Any type of light can prevent you from falling asleep, especially the blue light coming from your phone. Sleeping in a cooler room temperature, between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit, can also help you sleep better. Another way to prep your room is to use a diffuser with essential oils like lavender, peppermint, sandalwood or marjoram oil. A few drops of these oils in a diffuser or pot of boiling water will do the trick. 

Avoid heavy meals before bed 

Heavy meals, like a cheeseburger and fries, before bed will keep you tossing and turning at night. Spicy foods should also be avoided because they can cause acid reflux and heartburn. Instead, try eating foods that promote better sleep, like almonds, turkey and fatty fish. Almonds are a natural source of melatonin that may improve the quality of your sleep by regulating your internal clock. Turkey is high in protein and contains the amino acid tryptophan, which also produces melatonin. Fatty fish like tuna and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D which increases the production of serotonin. 

Avoid caffeine before bed 

Drinking caffeine a few hours before bedtime will keep your body and mind alert because caffeine is a stimulant that will disturb your body’s natural way of falling asleep. Try to avoid drinking coffee or energy drinks in the afternoon, and especially before heading to bed. 

Rest your mind 

Instead of using your phone before bedtime as an attempt to ease your mind, try taking a relaxing bath by adding a lavender bath bomb and playing some soothing music. Keeping a good book by your night stand and reading before going to bed can also be a better option to relax your mind. If you’re looking for something that will take less of your energy, meditating to calming music or guided meditations will help clear your mind and body right before bed.

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