Sleep is the Best Medication
March 7th through the 13th was National Sleep Awareness Week. As busy college students, we tend to neglect sleep. After all, we have so much to get done in a day that sleep is usually put on the back burner. People who sleep poorly are significantly more likely to develop mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, and are more susceptible to have changes in mood and stress levels. For our mental, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing, it is important that we are all getting the recommended amount of sleep a night, which is approximately eight hours. The following are seven tips by Mayo Clinic to help us gain a more restful night’s sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule. This includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and even making an effort to do so on weekends and holidays.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Try and avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol hours before you plan on going to bed. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants which take hours to wear off depending on the individual.
- Create a bedtime ritual. Do the same things each night so your body knows it is time to wind down. Some examples are listening to soft music, taking a bath, or reading a book.
- Get comfortable. Try and keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Room-darkening shades, earplugs, and a fan may help you get comfortable.
- Limit daytime naps. If you need a nap during the day, limit yourself to about 10 to 30 minutes during the midafternoon. Long naps can interfere with sleep, especially for someone struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular physical activity can promote better sleep by helping you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.
- Manage stress. Stress greatly impacts how much sleep we get. Become organized, set priorities, and take breaks to laugh or do something you enjoy so you do not feel over worked.
Celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week by trying one or all of these approaches to get a better night’s sleep and therefore, improve your overall mental health status and wellbeing.