Between having fibromyalgia and being a senior in college, sleep is more important for me than ever. At the same time, though, getting eight solid hours sounds like an unattainable dream. Counting sheep not working for you? Then try out my five (natural) tips for satisfying slumber!
1. First, enjoy downtime before dreams. One reason, in my mind, that college students choose relaxation over sleep is that we work all day. When I had a ten page research paper due last week, schoolwork dominated my schedule from seven when I woke up to ten thirty when sleep began singing my name...
But my brain was still so active, I spent another hour wasting time on the computer before feeling "ready" for bed. Don't let that happen to you! If you've been working hard all day, intentionally take a break thirty minutes to an hour before your usual bed time. This encourages your body and brain to embrace the same sleep schedule!
2. Keep your bed separate from your "head." I know plenty of people (my roommates included) who love doing homework in bed. It's comforting, soft - and allows for spontaneous mid-homework naps.
As for me, I prefer keeping my work space and sleep space separate. When I climb (literally, thanks to my bed risers!) into bed each night, I can't think of the calculus problem I toiled over a few hours earlier in the same spot.
Instead, I remember all the good sleeps I've had before. Homework, be gone!
3. Embrace the noise...of a noisemaker. Some people need total silence when they sleep, but in college, that's not really an option. Whether you share a room with one person or an apartment with four, college students can be loud.
My solution? Using a small, portable sound maker that can produce "white noise" consistently through the night. This not only hides the noise from the rest of my apartment, but also when my night-owl roomie finally collapses in bed.
4. Turn up the heat...with a heating pack. I'll admit, I got plenty of weird looks from my roomies when I warmed up a heating pack every night before bed. Especially in the winter, though, the warmth helps my muscles relax. Maybe the heat pack is the modern girl's teddy bear?
As for which heat pack to use, I have two: one that is electric and another warmed in the microwave. One word of warning: if you use the microwaved version, be sure to keep the fabric from becoming stuck on the side of the microwave as it warms. It will catch on fire.
(Not that I would know...cough cough, freshman year).
5. Finally, don't stress over sleep. On nights when, for whatever reason, I can't fall asleep, it's easy to fall into the trap of calculating hours. "If I fall asleep now, I'll get approximately seven hours. Six and a half. Six..."
Predicting how zombified I'll be in the morning, though, does nothing to help me sleep. In fact, it just makes me more stressed...more restless...and less sleepy. Instead, remind yourself that while sleep is necessary, a bad night won't kill you. Even if it feels like it!
Everyone's sleep schedule is different. I jealously admire my roomie's ability to thrive on six hours...while she applauds my ability to go to bed early (AKA before 2 am).
One thing everyone has in common? A good nights sleep feels great in the morning.
What are your tips for sleeping well? How many hours of sleep so you need? Comment below!