I’m back at school, and currently in my third day of my Jan Term class. I’m taking A Month in Yoknapatawphna County, a class focusing on William Faulkner. Thus far, I am really enjoying the material and the discussion. My class only has 12 people, and everyone is super engaged, which is refreshing. Last semester I was so stressed I felt like I didn’t really devote enough time to any of my classes. This term, though, I only have one class and one novel to read at a time, which is way more manageable. Anyway, JanTerm is considered the “fun” month on campus, and it’s often hard to get a lot of sleep. I’m also terrible at sleeping well when I am stressed, so I thought I would share my before-bed routine, as well as some helpful tips about getting a good night’s sleep when you are stressed or are in your “fun” mindset.
When I get ready for bed, I usually wait until right before I am going to sleep because otherwise I get super tired, and am useless. However, when I decide it’s time for sleep, I get into pajamas, wash my face, take my makeup off, brush my teeth, and drink half a bottle of water. If the room is a little louder than I like, something that results from either living with someone or living near loud people, I will pop in headphones for a bit and listen to mellow music, such as classical or my pandora station of epic movie scores (yes, I have one). Prior to getting into bed, I spray my pillows with a lavender fragrance. This scent is supposed to help people relax because it is calming, and quiets the mind.
While I’m laying in bed, I will set my alarm, check all social media one last time, turn off my light, dim my light on my phone, and then put my phone next to my bed. If I get up for any reason after I’ve fallen asleep, I try to go into as little light as possible because it’s been proven that going into a well-lit room in the middle of sleeping decreases the amount of sleep you will get after you return to bed. I also sleep with no jewelry because it is simply more comfortable. Some women sleep with sports bras, but this can be harmful to women, and can also be less comfortable. Another thing I avoid? Food at least an hour or two to when I plan on going to bed. Have you ever eaten, then gone straight to sleep? I have, and when I woke up I felt nauseas and uncomfortable. Another way to increase your sleeping is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
A few final tips that I do not personally practice, but have read about:
1) Keep noise in your room to a minimum, and make sure your room is inviting and comfortable.
2) Stretch, take a warm bath, or something that will relax your body.
3) Cut down on caffeine later in the day. My dad has a no caffeine past two o’clock rule because he has trouble sleeping, so cutting down anything that will wake you up, or make it difficult to turn your thoughts off is helpful.
4) Take 5 deep breaths while lying in bed. This is a calming exercise. I do this before major tests, uncomfortable situations, or talks with people I don’t know very well.
5) And, finally, the tip that scholars love, and that I find a little funny. Reserve your bed for sleep and any kind of physical activity. Do not work in bed, do homework in bed, or think a ton while in bed. If you work from your bed, you will associate it with work, and it will be far more difficult for you to fall asleep. If you associate bed with sleep only, then you will immediately calm down once you lie down.
Sleep is super important, and we do acquire sleep debts as humans, so make sure you are well-rested and alert for work or school. My family has a history of sleeping disorders, so I do whatever I can to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, and feel alert the next day. Hope this helps!