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Getting enough sleep? HA!!! If you are like many students, you are pushing yourself to the max and likely expereincing the negative effects of not having enough sleep such as irritability, head and body aches, poor concentration, forgetfullness, etc. These kinds of difficulties can interfere with normal sleep patterns and negatively effect your ability to learn and retain material.
Why do we need sleep?
Sleep is as essential to health as is food and water. The body needs to replensih itself nightly
1.Sunday through Thursday evenings, as often as possible, try to get to bed at the same time you got up. This means: be in bed around midnight. Research indicates that if you sleep on a schedule that allows you to be awake by early morning, you will perform better.
2.On Friday and Saturday nights, try to extend your wake hours by no more than a couple of hours. The more off cycle you get, the harder it is to get back on cycle and stay rested and alert.
3.Cease meaningful activity at least 30-60 minutes before sleeping and do no major exercise any less than 2 hours before going to bed.
4.If you are someone who experiences a large number of invasive thoughts when you are trying to sleep, try setting up a thinking time during your daytime hours. Pick one hour when you can focus on the types of random thoughts that come to you during times when you are trying to fall asleep. When these thoughts come to mind as you are trying to fall asleep, dismiss them and remind yourself that you will deal with them during thinking time. After a good night's rest, you will think and resolve those concerns better.
5.Most research shows that when individuals are tired, they should be able to fall asleep within five minutes or less. Falling asleep is something you allow yourself to do, not make yourself do. Let it happen, don't make it happen. Simply tell yourself that you are letting yourself fall asleep, and also remind yourself the time at which you wish to awake. Many individuals can learn to wake themselves up within minutes of the designated time, if they are getting regular sleep.
6.Sometimes eating something prior to going to bed in small quantities can help. A cup of hot cocoa with a cookie can help you relax. A bottle of milk puts a baby to sleep; it is the same principle that can work for adults. While a glass of wine or a beer may be helpful for some individuals, excessive alcohol has a tendency to get you to sleep, but then create irregular sleep patterns throughout the evening. Avoid alcohol.
7. Some individuals find that light stretching, a warm shower, or any other activity that you find relaxing, may be helpful. Relaxation is the main idea.
8.If you are dealing with a severe crisis or you are under extreme pressures, there are some non-addicting sleep medications that can be provided for short periods of time by a university physician. Consider a consultation with a physician at the Cowell Health Center. If you are having difficulty managing sleep patterns by yourself, you may want to consider discussing behavioral components with a counselor.