Getting enough good sleep is absolutely vital for functioning well, but sleep doesn’t always come easily. You can take simple steps to improve your sleep.
Getting enough sleep is vital for our physical and emotional wellbeing. Changes to our sleeping patterns can effect on our ability to function as we normally do.
Stress is one of the most common reasons that our sleeping pattern gets disrupted. While you're at university your stress levels are likely to higher than usual at times, with a knock on effect on your sleep. Lack of sleep can affect our mood, cognitive performance, motor skills, memory and alertness. Poor sleep can lead to an increase in accidents, and lower our quality of life.
Good sleep tips
- Minimise your caffeine intake, particularly after about 2pm. Caffeine-free teas are often helpful in calming you before sleep.
- Try to keep your study out of your bedroom. Don’t study in bed.
- Exercise during the day to burn energy and release stress. Avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.
- Avoid naps during the day.
- Try to keep to the same getting up and bed times—this helps your body anticipate sleep.
- Get the most comfortable bed and bedding you can.
- Make your bedroom as dark as you can.
- Wear ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper or have a noisy flat or neighbours.
- Make sure you feel safe and secure in your home at night—fix broken locks or latches, keep a phone by the bed if you are nervous.
- Develop a good winding down routine in the lead up to bedtime. Aim to turn off ALL screens one hour before you want to be asleep. Screens keep you alert and prevent sleep.
- Don’t go to bed hungry, it will make you focus on food and your rumbling stomach rather than sleep.
- Make a list of things to do the next day before bedtime to avoid worrying once in bed.
- Avoid or limit alcohol as this can cause night waking. Alcohol blocks the deep (REM) sleep we have earlier in the night, which leaves us feeling like we haven't rested.
- If you have an injury or are in pain this can disrupt your sleep. If this is the case, talk to a GP about how you can manage pain.
- Make sure any medication you take at night doesn’t make you ‘hyper’ or so sleepy that you can't function the next day. Discuss any medication side effects with your GP.
If you continue to have difficulty sleeping, despite following these tips, it may be a good idea to discuss this with your GP or a counsellor.