Isn’t it crazy that we can fall asleep in ten seconds flat at the library, but as soon as our heads meet our pillows we are wide-awake? There are many things that can be done to help a person fall asleep fast, without the use of shady sleeping aids those people down the hall always offer you:
1. Limit caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant (well, duh). Having a cup of coffee before your night class might instantly perk you up, but chances are you will be up way long after your professor lets you go. Avoid energy drinks, coffee, even caffeinated tea for about four hours before trying to sleep.
2. No eating right before bed.
Just like caffeine, if you have an orange (or any other acidic fruit) right before bed, it will be harder to drift off to la-la-land. Just as you don’t want to get wired up on caffeine right before sleep, try not to eat until you’re full right before bed. You can still hit up late night with friends; just ensure you are not planning on sleeping for s few hours afterward. If you are starving try to eat lighter foods like eggs, an apple, some cereal, etc. if you are planning to doze off soon.
3. Having a sleeping schedule.
Your friends may be unpredictable or spontaneous, your schedule may be drastically different from day to day, and if your involved on campus, forget about it. Having a different schedule each day is an exciting part of college that one may not appreciate until one starts working 9-5. Ensure that your sleep schedule is somewhat routine (i.e. you try to sleep each night around the same time and try to wake each morning similarly). No one says your bedtime has to be at 11pm anymore, but keeping a schedule will help you fall asleep faster and get a more restful sleep.
4. No tech ‘til breakfast.
This is a tough one, but using your phone, iPad, laptop, or anything of the sort right before bed might be a reason you can’t seem to sleep well. Have you ever closed your eyes and the first picture you have in your mind is a computer game or a part of that funny YouTube video? This is a sign you should probably cut down. Skeptical? See what Dr. Breus has to say about this.
5. The right amount of exercise.
Girls and guys alike seem to drastically change their exercise routine when in college to either extreme. Some slow down their workouts, go less often or stop them completely. Others workout so hard that their body is throbbing in pain and they end up so sore that they need to take a break on the stairs when trying to get to class on the second floor. Either of these extremes is harmful to your sleep. Exercising that right amount is different for everyone, and it takes practice to find that balance. At least 20 minutes of exercise every other day is a nice minimum whether that is walking, lifting, running or rock climbing. Finding fun and different ways to keep in shape can keep your muscles guessing and trick your mind into disbelief that what you just did really was a workout can give you a more restful sleep. Try a new sport with a friend or check out a fitness class on campus.
Not a yogi? Try just sitting at your desk or on a comfortable chair and just take a few slow breaths. Clearing your head a bit before bed may get rid of some stress or anxiety before sleep.
7. Less pressure on yourself.
Keep up with your responsibilities, going to class and such, but not putting too much pressure on yourself may help you drift off to sleep quicker. Remember that saying “College is the most exciting time in your life”? They say that for a reason.
8. College sleep kit.
Either by hitting up the local convenience store or asking for these items to be sent in your next care package, these items are known to help you fall asleep faster:
Lavender lotion or putting a drop of lavender oil behind your pillow
Eye mask to block out your roommates desk light
De-caffeinated herbal tea (most labels will advertise it is a natural sleep remedy)
A word on ear plugs – although they work wonders in the library around finals when everyone is doing their homework last minute, earplugs at night could be dangerous incase of fire or other emergency. Talking with your roommates or neighbors about the noise level could be your best bet.
Do NOT succumb to alcohol. Many bad habits can begin in college, but do NOT let using alcohol as a sleep aid become one of them. Once legal age, there is nothing wrong with a glass of wine at the end of the day, but using alcohol as a sleep aid can be very dangerous! Here’s proof.