My life always follows a strictly cyclical pattern. I wake up later than anticipated, work all day and still manage to go to sleep at ungodly hours of the night. Walking to class with deep, dark circles and extreme sleep deprivation is my signature look. With midterms on their way, extreme sleep deprivation can only get worse. That’s why I decided to make changes in my daily routine. I decided that sleep, and health in general, should always be my first priority. In order to start seeing permanent improvements in my mood, performance and overall satisfaction, I developed a plan to help me relax, sleep better and feel in control of my day.
Make Use of Technology
I’m a big proponent of apps that have mind exercises or stories to help me calm down before sleeping, doing work or starting my day. One of my personal favorite apps that includes these aspects is “Headspace.” The free app includes meditation courses that last anywhere from one minute to two hours. The app features colorful animations to ease anxious feelings and advice from therapists about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Many of the more tailored features require paid purchases, but the app still offers plenty of free components to help you get the most out of your experience. With a free trial that lasts two weeks, you can explore all the options before deciding to commit to an annual subscription of $69.99 or a monthly subscription of $12.99 a month. Many times, a quick activity on “Headspace” has put me at ease before I sleep and has helped decrease my stress levels during the day.
Journaling for Those Who Aren’t Artistically Inclined
I was always intimidated by YouTubers and Instagram influencers who create artistic spreads in their bullet journals for each week. Lacking that artistic edge, I questioned whether buying a journal would be a useful purchase. However, I quickly learned that journaling can be whatever you want it to be. My roommate keeps a very simple bullet journal that still manages to look put-together. I use mine to write diary entries. These entries help me keep track of daily highlights, things to work on, and an occasional poem or short story written during my free time.
I find that mainstream media instills the idea that journal entries need to be several pages long and well-written, but even the daily habit of journaling short entries is sustainable in the long term. I find that writing out the day’s events before I go to sleep helps me calm down. I channel any frustration that I may have had from a tedious assignment before going to sleep to avoid staying up all night overthinking. I personally prefer the hardcover classic Moleskine notebook, but any notebook will do. I will admit, however, that splurging on a notebook gives me more of an incentive to keep up with my daily entries.
Stop Cramming by Planning
Along the same vein, planning out my day has significantly helped me relax before bed. On a whiteboard right above my desk, I write everything I have to do the next day alongside long-term goals, inspirational quotes and weekly commitments. Setting up my board every night helps me gain a sense of control over my life. Bullet journals, planners, online calendars and to-do list apps are all ways to hold yourself accountable and add structure to your day. Even though planning your day may add a few minutes to your nightly routine, I promise it’s worthwhile.
Wind Down with Calming Music
Although it’s no mystery that it helps with relaxation, listening to soft music to fall asleep helps calm the mind. The genre depends on the person, but a comfortable lo-fi beat or a smooth jazz is sure to get you cozy and ready for bed. If making your own playlist seems daunting, Spotify offers various playlists for every music taste. My favorites are “Calming Acoustic,” “Deep Sleep” and “Baby Sleep.”
Being in College Doesn’t Mean Not Getting Enough Sleep!
Arguably the most essential tip to regularly having a good night’s sleep is to maintain a consistent, sustainable sleep schedule. I noticed that I was sleeping much later on weekends compared to weekdays, which caused me to be less productive on weekends. This forced me to stay up later during the week to compensate for my weekend procrastination habits.
There is no such thing as a universal perfect sleep schedule. However, setting a personal sleep goal and taking your daily schedule into consideration will help you get those hours in and avoid naps and procrastination during the day. Building a consistent sleep schedule will condition your body to wake up and wind down at the same time everyday. You don’t have to sleep before 11 p.m. or midnight if you prefer to stay up later. As long as you maintain consistency in sleeping and waking, you’ll find yourself well equipped to combat sleep deprivation.
With midterms just around the corner, you may find your body holding onto stress and tension as you forgo sleep for those few extra hours of studying. Remember to take time off school and relax before hitting the hay. These tips may seem simple, or perhaps even obvious, but sticking to them will help you conquer whatever challenges college sends your way.