Sleep is for the week- and there are seven days.
In the first year of my undergraduate degree, I took an introductory Psychology class. It was one of my favourite electives because I could apply what I learned to my professional work and personal life. This class focused on multiple topics and some of my favorites were research methods, learning, memory, personality, and consciousness.
Specifically, the consciousness unit discussed the biology of sleep. With that being said, the circadian rhythm regulates the natural functions of the body and sometimes alters based on factors related to our environment and stressors. One function that the circadian rhythm is responsible for regulating is the sleep-wake cycle
Factors that can affect sleep patterns are sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, or even having two cups of coffee when you usually have one a day. I happen to be guilty of both! Come exam time, my anxiety heightens and you better bet your bottom dollar that I am making frequent visits to my Keurig machine. (Okay, three visits throughout the day). Regardless, both circumstances can do no good to your sleep schedule.
Here are some scientifically proven and not-so scientifically proven helpful ways to regulate your sleep patterns so that you can get your beauty sleep (Lilienfeld et al, 2011).
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Making a 10 pm bedtime and 6 am wake up time as a strict routine facilitates the wake up time and falling asleep. Sadly, this also means that you cannot sleep in or go to bed at 3 am on the weekends, but in the long run it will be beneficial!
2) Sleep = Bed
Associate the bed with sleep. For example, studying on your bed is associating it with work and wakefulness. To reduce this, perhaps select another location to study and only go to bed when you have finished your tasks for the day.
3) Do Something Else
Have you had a restless night in bed and keep tossing and turning? Well, get up and do something else. Watch a movie or do an activity then try to go back to sleep. This should be helpful when trying to fall back asleep.
4) Avoid Alarm Clocks
Sometimes a sleepless night can leave you counting down the hours that you have until you get up. This is a no no! Instead, try shifting your focus away from the clock. Watching time pass only leaves you worried about not sleeping.
5) Reduce Caffeine Intake
My family doctor suggested that I should reduce my caffeine intake, but did I listen? No way Jose. I love my coffee. Luckily she had an equally effective alternative which was to stop my caffeine intake after 12 pm. When I do not have pressing work and study schedules around finals, I stick to this rule and it really does help!
Working out releases endorphins and can help you feel more energetic, for me, it also helps with falling asleep. I find that anything 30 minutes and less gives me more energy while anything between 1-1.5 hours tires me out enough to go right to bed.
7) Hot Shower
Usually my bedtime routine goes a little like this: workout, hot shower, cup of tea, and some calming music until I fall asleep. I find that a hot shower is another good way to prompt my body for sleep.
8) Guided Imagery
Another source that may be helpful is guide imagery/ muscle relation/ breathing techniques. Many links can be found on Youtube, even if you just type in “Guided imagery for sleep”. This can help you use your imagination in a creative way while listening to what is being said. A combination of breathing and muscle relaxation can counteract any tension or feelings of anxiety.
9) Chamomile Tea
Although tea has caffeine in it, I find that Chamomile Nights Herbal Tea and Chamomile Honey and Vanilla flavoured tea before bed helps me simmer down. It may be a sort of expectancy effect, but nonetheless I do feel sleepy after I drink it.
10) Brief Psychotherapy
It has been reported that a more effective way to help insomnia is brief psychotherapy as opposed to sleeping aids. To find resources for psychotherapy check out what your university has to offer or speak to your family doctor for a referral to a clinician.
If you have any tips that work for you, feel free to comment below 🙂 Keep calm and get your beauty sleep!
**As a note, if you would like to take a look at the textbook or use it as an academic reference in any of your upcoming papers here is a link:
Lilienfeld, S. O., Lynn, S. J., Namly, L. L., & Woolf, N. J. (2011). Psychology: From inquiry to understanding (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.