Sleep isn’t just an essential piece of your health and wellbeing, it also helps to consolidate what you’ve learned, which is why spending the night wide awake and cramming for an exam isn’t as effective as ‘real’ learning.
A good night’s sleep also equates to better focus, concentration, productivity and engagement in coursework and socialising, and generally making you feel happier (and more likely to make friends if you’re not a sleep-deprived grouch).
Let’s dive under the covers with our halls-friendly sleep tips:
• First off, an obvious one – invest in some earplugs and block out as much sounds as possible. Sleeping in earplugs can feel a bit funny at first, and they’re not for everyone, so give them a try and if they don’t work for you, we have lots more ideas to help.
• Make your room comfortable, calm, cool and dark to encourage your body to fall asleep naturally.
• Upgrade your pillows to something more suited to you and your sleep position, as this can also help you get comfortable and wake refreshed.
• The mattresses provided in halls aren’t renowned for their plushness (though you might get lucky!), so a mattress topper could make a big difference. They come in standard bed sizes and fit neatly on top of your mattress with a couple of straps to hold it in place, and they can make a world of difference to your comfort.
• A dark environment signals to your brain that it’s time to get some rest, so try not to spend lots of time on your phone, laptop, watching TV or playing videogames before bed. They all give off a lot of ‘blue’ light and will stimulate your brain rather than quieten it.
• On the flip side of having a dark room to get to sleep in, is using natural light to help you wake up and avoid feeling groggy.
• Keeping regular hours will help a healthy sleep routine feel natural. We know this is easier said than done when you’re surrounded by piles of work and partying opportunities, but getting up and going to bed at a similar time every night will help your body find a rhythm that naturally takes over when you’re struggling to sleep.
• Cut out caffeine a few hours before bed – even if you feel the need for a boost to complete a project. It doesn’t have the same effect on everyone but we know coffee, tea and energy drinks are designed to perk us up, so try sipping on something else if you want to sleep better.
• Midnight feasts might feel good at the time but filling up too close to bedtime can keep you up by kicking off your digestion.
• Keep a pen and notepad next to your bed to clear your mind of any tasks and ideas that need addressing tomorrow. It should help to stop you worrying about forgetting (also good for getting worries out of your mind)
• Get some exercise every day (or when you can). Regular physical activity, ideally in daylight so you’re benefitting from all that lovely vitamin D, will help you sleep better as well as supporting general good health. Going for a brisk walk or run can help to clear your mind when you’re working through an essay, so you’ll see it with fresh eyes.
• Create a pre-bed routine to help you unwind. This can be anything from going for a walk to having a hot shower, reading a book or listening to a meditation podcast – the important thing is that you find something that works for you.