Sleeping isn’t optional, it’s essential. We spend around a third of our lives doing it. It’s not just us humans who need it; in fact, our furry Koala friends get an impressive 14.5 hours of shut-eye every single day, but first place goes to Bats. Bats are the longest sleepers on record, getting a whopping 20 hours each night. Jealous much?
Getting forty winks makes us feel refreshed and ready to face the day ahead. A good night’s sleep is so important as it also allows us to function normally the following day. One of the most frustrating things is not being able to get to sleep or having a bad night’s sleep. We’ve all been there and pulled an all-nighter or known what it’s like to try and survive on only a few pathetic hours of kip. The results? Not good. Symptoms can include grumpiness and grogginess.
Not getting good sleep sucks and can affect every part of your life: your mood, your ability to concentrate, your performance at school and even relationships with your friends. So, if you’ve tried counting sheep and still can’t drift off, here are some things you should try:
Top Tips for Better Sleep
Avoid lots of caffeine
…especially in the evening. Be warned, caffeine comes in many forms including the obvious; yes coffee and tea but also other treats like chocolate and soft drinks. While caffeine helps us feel more awake in the morning, it can have bad effects on your following night’s sleep. If you’re a big tea drinker, try having a herbal tea to keep you going instead. Peppermint tea is really refreshing and has minimal caffeine. Result.
Get it off your mind
Stress is the biggest enemy of good quality sleep. If your mind is running in circles, don’t lie there hoping it’ll silence itself because it most probably won’t. Try putting pen to paper and writing about whatever it is on your mind. If you have difficult decisions to make, use this as an opportunity to come up with some potential solutions. You could also give Stress Reprogramming a try.
The bed is for sleep
This is simple, keep all daytime activities out of the bedroom (apart from a few select things, but we won’t talk about that here) and this will help you associate sleeping with your bed and a relaxing environment (rather than endlessly trying to count sheep). Try doing your work or studying in another room. Keep activities like eating and watching TV to a minimum (this does not include breakfast in bed).
Turn down the lights
It might sound obvious but bright lights do keep you up, our bodies are biologically sensitive to natural daylight, this is called a circadian rhythm. As it gets dark, our bodies are filled with the hormone melatonin, which signals that it’s time to sleep. Our biological rhythm is thrown off with artificial bright lighting, suppressing the melatonin. Try and keep things dark at night by lighting some candles or putting a lamp on as you are getting ready to sleep. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly; bonus.
Limit the screens
Blue light wakes you up. fact. Using your phone, laptop and watching TV will all divert you from the ultimate goal of your restful slumber. It’s too easy to fall into a funny-cat-video blackhole on YouTube before realizing it’s 3am and you gotta be up in 5 hours. If you really have to, try turning down the brightness of your screen or switching on a nightmode filter, this will help get your melatonin in check.
Make sure you are comfortable before you go to sleep. Although our ideas on comfort might differ, nothing beats the smell of fresh bed sheets and the classic comfy PJs you got last Christmas as you drift off into dreamland. Some of you might enjoy the calming sounds of ocean waves, or rainfall to get you feeling all cosy (there are loads of apps for this). For those of you who are more daring, try a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow to help you chill out.
Don’t force it
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, don’t put pressure on yourself, this will only make you feel more stressed, making you less likely to sleep. Try reading that book you lost interest in, it could even finally be time tackle the Shakespeare (just remember how you felt back in class). If you just lay there thinking about going to sleep, it’s less likely to happen. Get up and do something for 10 minutes and then head back… AND STOP COUNTING DOWN THE HOURS UNTIL MORNING! Trust us.
If your body really ain’t playing game and is adamant about staying awake, tire it out. After all, it is your body. Go for a run or something an hour or so before bedtime and see if that makes a difference.
Get quacky with it
Literally. Have a bath, romance yourself a lil’ with some candles, relaxing music and your mum’s prized bubble bath.
Listen to the right kind of music
Try to avoid upbeat music before bed. We’d recommend giving peaceful sleep playlists a try. If you’re stuck for ideas, you could try bands such as London Grammar or the XX.
Have a happy ending
Look, we’re not going to spell it out for you but it really does help. In case you’re doubting it, you’re almost certainly thinking of the thing we’re thinking of. It begins with an O…
Sleep problems are actually quite common and often linked with stress but following our top tips will hopefully give you a much-needed push in the right direction. However, if you’re really struggling with sleep, it’s important to speak to your GP.