Mask by Day, Mask by Night

Ah yes, sleep, one of the most crucial components of living. We all know we need more. We all know 7 to 9 hours is recommended. We all know we function better with sleep. Yet, many of us still struggle to get sufficient sleep.  Often addressing the overarching issue is too big to tackle, luckily for us there are small scale changes and tasks we can implement to improve the quality of the sleep we do get. And hopefully, in improving the quality of sleep we will also be able to sleep longer. 

Morning

Let’s begin with the morning.

  • First thing, every morning: open your blinds
    • Let in all the natural light possible
  • While working throughout the day get as much sunlight exposure as possible
  • Blue light emitted from electronic screens during the day is actually great!
    • Blue light stimulates increased alertness and mood.

During times of COVID this is good news as our lives seem to be online. So, aim to get all your work done during daylight hours. Now, that is not possible as a college student. The amount of assignments and time studying keeps us up well past daylight, especially as we head into winter and days shorten. Try these to combat school while promoting sleep:

  • switch all your screens to night mode 3 hours prior to your bedtime.
  • Use soft/warm lighting, or best of all red light
    • These light changes prevent sympathetic nervous system stimulation
      •  Which keeps us up and alert
    • Prevent melatonin suppression
      • A hormone released by the body that winds us down and aids in sleep.
    • Protect of our circadian rhythm from disruption
      •  The body’s natural tendency to fall asleep and wake up

Bedroom

Your bedroom, a place of peace, comfort, and rejuvenation, can transform your quality of sleep if certain environmental settings are optimized. These tips on darkness and silence will help you drift off sooner and sleep soundly:

Evening

  • Shut the blinds you opened in the morning.
  • Turn off any computers or TVs those will only disrupt your sleep.
  • If you live in a noisy place download a white noise app to muffle out night life activities.
  •  Temperature
    • Keep it cool, specifically between 60-75° F.
    • Cooler temperature increase melatonin levels.
  • If you wake up during the night, walk around briefly, then return to your bed.
    • Physical movement triggers your body to fall asleep once you return to bed.

Aside from physical changes to the environment there are simple changes you can enact through eating habits and phone diligence to improve your sleep. It can be hard to stay up late doing homework and not eat, so let’s just focus on eating better. Late night use of cellphones is usually geared towards (addictive) social media use and not academic use.

  • Say no to all spicy or fried food after dinner time.
    • These foods are heavy and can cause gastrointestinal discomforts.
    • Spicy foods are associated with disrupted sleep and increased time to fall asleep. 
  • Physically remove yourself from your cellphone
    • Place it on the other side of your room for a minimum of 30 minutes before going to bed.
  • Once you’ve made it in bed…
    • Keep yo eyes closed
      • Looking at clocks stresses your body and can keep you up.
      • If you wake up in the middle of night, refrain from checking the time.

With these tips and tricks fresh on your mind, pick some and start today! These tips do not affect schedules by adding more time-consuming tasks. They are easy to incorporate into your already packed schedule and may give you more of the vital thing you so desperately need – sleep!

May we all sleep better tonight and set ourselves up for success tomorrow. Okay, good night, buenas noches, bonne nuit, gute nacht, buona notte, god natt!

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