As a student, sleep is something we all love. But it’s also something that we often don’t get enough of. Between all the partying, studying, catching up with friends and taking care of ourselves, it can be tough to manage a good sleeping schedule.
Studying in a new country can be challenging sometimes. As an international student you don’t always know what to do, where to go and how to manage your feelings. But Wellness Wednesday is here to help. Do you need a boost of energy, some quick tips on how to get your life together or are you in need of some good advice? Every Wednesday there will be a series of lifestyle articles posted on 21bis. Mindfulness, relaxation, food and exercise: we have it all. With our ideal tips and tricks, you will come a long way. Make sure to visit this website and follow us on our Instagram page: ‘weare21bis’ to stay up-to-date. Get ready to brighten up your day! And now onto the article: how to fall asleep faster.
Now, it’s fine to not always get the sleep you need -we all need a late night talk sometimes- but what is not okay is laying in bed unable to actually fall asleep. Whether it’s because you’re still thinking about that assignment that’s due the end of the week or the fact that your body is still pumping with energy. To make sure that you fall asleep immediately when your head hits your pillow, here are some tips:
- Avoid multimedia in the evening
Your body has a biological clock that works in rhythms. These rhythms are determined by the amount of light and dark your body is exposed to. If you’re only exposed to natural light, your body will automatically set your sleep patterns according to when it’s light outside and when it’s dark. But when artificial light is added to your day, which comes from your phone, tv or laptop, your body’s natural rhythms becomes confused. To avoid that from happening, try to not use your multimedia in the evening.
- Activate the blue light filter on your phone
Another problem with multimedia is that they produce blue light. Blue lights boost your attention, reaction time and your mood, according to Harvard Medical School. This makes it harder for you to fall asleep. All artificial light suppresses the production of melatonin in your body, this is a sleep hormone that tells your body when to go to sleep, but blue light specifically because your body is more sensitive to this type of light. Every phone and computer has a button to filter out all of the blue light from your screen, so be sure to use it!
- Don’t shower right before bed
Because your body works in rhythms, it also tells you when to fall asleep. Your body cools itself down by about a degree to prepare you for sleep. If you take a hot shower right before you go to bed, your core body temperature will heat up again. Because of this, you won’t be able to fall asleep until your body has cooled down to your sleep temperature. So be sure to always leave an hour or more between hitting the shower and going to bed.
- No caffeinated drinks after noon
Everybody knows that caffeine affects your sleep, but not a lot of people know that you should stop drinking caffeine around noon. That means no coffee, cola or any other drinks that have caffeine in them. Caffeine blocks receptors in your brain that signal the brain that your body is tired and needs to rest. If you want to fall asleep at 10 pm, then you should stop drinking caffeinated drinks after noon. If you consume caffeine at noon, there are still remains of it in your system by the time you should be sleeping.
- Keep a notebook on your nightstand
As a student, overthinking can happen. Thoughts about school, your friends, the way you look, what you’re going to cook tomorrow all enter your head at night without you even wanting it. You just want to sleep. But you can’t because your brain won’t stop. You’ll find yourself saying: “Just stop thinking!” but it doesn’t work like that. A handy tip is to put a small notebook on your nightstand. That way if you’re overthinking again, you can pop on a little light and write down everything that you’re thinking about. You pull the thoughts out of your brain and throw them onto the paper. That way you’ve dealt with it for now and postponed it until tomorrow.
- Do something relaxing if you’ve been in bed for more than 20 minutes
If you’ve been trying to fall asleep for more than 20 minutes and are not able to, get up and go to another room in your house to do a relaxing activity, like listening to calming music, reading a book or even some breathing or relaxation exercises to calm your mind. Laying in bed awake for more than 20 minutes can cause a link between your sleeping environment and wakefulness. You don’t want to associate your bed with being awake, but with sleepy thoughts and a tired feeling.
If these tips don’t make a difference, be sure to contact a doctor or someone who’s specialised in insomnia.
Text: Janne Schellingen, Picture: Anne-Sophie Verkoyen