The National Sleep Foundation recommends that young adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, and no fewer than 6. Sounds like a joke, right? But it is, and for your best physical and mental health it’s best to strive for at least eight hours a night. You don’t want the adverse effects of chronic sleeplessness to hinder your life, so it’s best to follow these tips to help you get that coveted eight hour rest.
Organize Your Morning
The best way to give yourself an extra bit of sleep at night? Make your mornings as simple as possible. Simply having everything ready to go and having a clean routine can give you nearly twenty extra minutes of sleep a night.
Here’s what you should absolutely be doing the night before, instead of when you’re groggy in the morning.
1. Pick out your clothes, including incidentals like underwear and shoes.
Not only does it help you have more exciting, more put-together outfits every day, you’ll save time looking for things and picking things out. If I pick out an outfit at night I’ll remember to check the weather and center my outfit around that. If I’m rushing to get dressed before class I might miss an opportunity to wear a sundress on an unseasonably warm day.
2. Have your backpack zipped and ready to go.
I do not get into bed at night until my backpack is closed and by the door. Nice benefits of this include I don’t fight with my printer when I’m in a time crunch, I never leave things at home, and I don’t scramble around looking for my sociology notebook before a test. This also means I can’t study in bed, because all of my notes are neatly packed away.
3. Pack your lunch and/or snacks
Now you might be someone who buys lunch at school, but both in high school and college I was a seasoned brown-bagger (well actually I have an adorable insulated polka-dot lunch box, but the point stands). This allows me to eat healthier, bigger meals of food I actually like. But even days I’m home for lunch I make sure I have a snack or two in my bag. It’s really nice to just grab a packed lunch and go, and you’re way less likely to forget a spoon or napkin at night than rushing in the morning.
Power Down at Night
Okay, your mornings are organized which has shaved a ton of precious time off your routine and put it back in your sleep bank. But actually falling asleep at night can be just as horrible an experience. It’s easy to get into bed at a reasonable hour, but if you lay awake all night nothing will be accomplished. Here’s how to get to sleep at night easier.
1. Turn off your screens
This is going to require a huge amount of self-control but it absolutely works. Turn off your screens (TV, Computer, Cellphone, Tablet) at least an hour before bed. I have stopped keeping my laptop in my bedroom entirely, it lives in my living room. When I lived in a dorm room I put it across the room so I couldn’t access it from bed. I put my phone on airplane mode and I leave it face-down on my night stand- and if you don’t use your phone as an alarm you should turn it off entirely. Screens emit a blue light that your brain mistakes for sunlight, making it harder to release the chemicals that allow you to sleep.
2. Create a night routine
Since your night is not longer spent reading tweets until you fall asleep, its best to create a new routine of activities that you do before bed. If you have a set of three or four things you do before you get into bed, your brain will learn to associate this pattern with sleep. I personally pick out my clothes, stretch a little, update my to-do list, and then do a skin routine. Simple, easy, and all things I need to do anyway.
3. Stay out of your bed
This can be difficult when you live in a dorm room, but even sitting the opposite way in your bed can make a difference. Learn to associate your bed with sleep and only sleep. If you do your homework in bed (a bad habit I had in the beginning of college), your brain associates your bed with stress. Do your homework at your desk or, even better, outside of your bedroom entirely. Only get into bed if you’re going to sleep, and see how much easier it becomes to relax.
Extra Sleep Help
Here’s the fun thing about the placebo effect, it still works even if you know you’re taking a placebo.
I’m a big fan of something called “melatonin,” it’s a homeopathic sleep remedy you can buy at a pharmacy. Yes, roll your eyes, I know it’s all voodoo quote unquote “science.” But even if nothing in the pill actually helps you fall asleep chemically, it really has helped me get to sleep when I’m having a bad night. It helps me relax. I figure it’s safer than relying on Nyquill or Benadrill when I’m really stressed out.
I know other people who like white noise machines or guided meditation. There’s a ton of weird tricks out there to help you get better sleep. Try them out and see what works.