We know that the right amount of sleep improves cognitive function, restores your energy levels and improves your focus and attention span – all of which are important for students!
Is your room too noisy, too bright, too hot or cold? Think about how you can sort these things out before bedtime as the last thing you want to be doing at 2.00How students am is messing about with radiators, opening and closing windows or knocking on flatmates walls (the middle of the night is never going to be a good time to have these chats).
Try to reduce your caffeine intake before bed if you can as this can have a big impact. We know about coffee but this you might not factor in tea, chocolate, cola (or any fizzy drinks really). We know this can be hard around exam time as you might be using energy drinks or sugar to stay up for cramming but a good night's sleep will do much more for you than trying to write assignments at 3am.
How much are you smoking before bed? Nicotine is a stimulant too so try reducing that before bed if you can.
Many people think that alcohol or Cannabis will help them get to sleep when they’ve been stressed out about work and whilst it is true that they can knock you out, the quality of your sleep won’t be great and can leave you feeling drowsy and unrested even after long periods asleep. It’s much better to get less sleep without using these.
Try and settle into a nice pre-bed routine so your body and brain are ready for sleep, even five to ten minutes of reading before you sleep can make a difference (though try and avoid screen use as this wakes your brain up). Getting into your night time clothes, brushing your teeth etc. in a regular routine can just trigger your brain into recognising that it’s time to wind down.
Finally, one of the biggest causes of sleep disruption is staying up all night worrying you’re not getting enough sleep, so whilst 7-9 hours sleep a night is ideal, don’t worry if you’re not always getting this, as some regular sleep is better than none. You will always be getting more sleep than you think you are (even if it’s disrupted, broken sleep). It is incredibly rare to experience any short-term health problems from lack of sleep so instead of worrying about how long you’re asleep for, focus on making the sleep you do get as comfortable as possible.
Get in touch with us if you’d like some more reading on managing sleep issues or to find out about groups we have that can help.
Toby Chelms is the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Manager at Leeds Trinity University. You can get in touch through the MyLTU app or by emailing email@example.com. For more information, visit Student Support and Wellbeing.
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