Get to Sleep

How can you get a good night’s sleep?

1. Do not eat a heavy evening meal. Include less protein and more carbohydrates.

2. Get plenty of exercise and fresh air, perhaps walking or jogging before your first classes. If you are under a lot a stress, exercise can help you relax. Avoid exercise for at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. And yes, that includes  dancing.

3. Milk products improve sleep. Try a glass of milk or a cup or warm milk at bedtime. If you want it sweeter, use honey or real  sugar, not artificial sweeteners.

4. Avoid alcohol. It reduces the time you spend in REM sleep. You will not feel rested. Alcohol also dehydrates your body. Dr Pierce Howard recommends an eight ounce glass of water for every ounce of alcohol you drink. Just think how often you’ll need to get up during the night to use the bathroom.

5. Don’t drink coffee, tea, hot chocolate or soft drinks  for at least six to eight hours before bedtime. They all contain caffeine and caffeine keeps you awake. It doesn’t bother you? That’s nice, but they are also diuretics. They take fluids out of your body. That means you should drink a glass of water each time you drink one of these. Again, you’ll be up during the night.

6. Each individual has their own sleep patterns. One may need nine or ten hours of sleep to feel rested. Another may feel rested with closer to seven hours. Dr. Howard says that thin people seem to need less sleep than heavier people. Some people sleep better if the room is cool. Some sleep better with a pleasant fragrance such as cinnamon, herbs or vanilla. If you have trouble getting to sleep, try one of these or play quiet relaxing music.

7. If, for some reason, you lost sleep during the night, a nap later in the day might help. In fact, you might find a short daily nap makes you feel better. .

8. Do not let other students talk you into staying up late. Tell them you need your “beauty sleep.” Tell them that you don’t do well if you don’t get a good night’s sleep. Tell them you need to go home early because you need to study. Tell them whatever you need to, but stick to your schedule and get a good night’s sleep every night of the week.

“Not every night,” I hear you wailing.  “Even on  the weekends?” Sure, most of you can stay up an hour later on weekends and sleep an hour later in the morning. But my experience is that by ten, or maybe eleven, the best part of the party is over. People who want to keep partying tend to be making a statement that their parents no longer control their bedtime or they might be hoping to get drunk and “get lucky.”

Remember why you went to college, why you or your parents are spending all that money for you to be there. You are there to learn. You learn better with a good night’s sleep.

Schedule time for enough sleep every night. If for some reason you didn’t get enough sleep, schedule time for a short nap. You learn better when you have enough sleep.

For further information on how to get enough sleep and the importance of sleep, I’d suggest you  go to the sleep section on www.helpguide.org

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