Sleep is so crucial for our wellbeing- it effects our stress levels, health, weight, skin, memory, mood… the list goes on. That being said, I see sleep deprivation at college all the time and I know the problem is much more widespread than just within my close group of friends. Weird brag, but I’d say I’m pretty good at sleeping. I have a pretty regular sleep schedule and I don’t have much trouble falling asleep- but it took practice to get here.
Below I’ve shared my secrets for the best routines and sleep essentials to get you into a healthy sleep cycle STAT, BABY!
It is scientifically proven that creating habits close to bedtime helps to train your noggin into knowing its time to slow down, unwind, and get ready for some good Zzz’s. Here are the ways I’ve created a bedtime routine that works for me.
1. Refrain from consuming caffeine past 4 PM.
This can be adjusted depending on how caffeine effects you, but I find if I have a coffee past 4, it will result in a lot of tossing and turning for the first half of my night.
2. Set a schedule.
It’s easy to get distracted near bedtime with online shopping, work, FaceTiming, and even hanging out with friends (if you’re at college), but I can’t stress enough how important it is to set a within-the-hour time frame to go to bed and wake up every day. For nights that I don’t go out, I aim to be asleep between 11 PM-12 AM and wake up between 8-9 AM. This way, I know I am training my body’s internal clock to prepare for when its time to start relaxing every night (and waking up every morning).
3. Create a cozy and clean space
There is nothing worse than getting into bed when your sheets are tangled up and your room is a mess. Clean space, clean mind (don’t believe me? read this). Whether it’s at the beginning of the day or part of your nightly routine, take time to make your bed and clear the clutter in your room. You might be surprised at how much calmer you feel when its time to unwind.
4. Put away the electronics
The blue light from screens effects our circadian rhythms, which subconsciously sends messages to our brain that its not time to sleep anytime soon. If you’re anything like me, putting your phone away at least 30 minutes before bed is probably the toughest part of your routine. Checking my notifications before I go to bed has become habitual, and it’s not an easy tick to stop. Something that has really helped me has been replacing my phone usage with reading or listening to podcasts (with a sleep timer so I’m not tempted with notifications when I need to turn it off). What are some of your favorite podcasts? Comment below.
1. Essential Oil
Lavender, to be exact. Familiarizing yourself with a scent that signifies bedtime will quite literally train your brain that its time to relax (great example of classical conditioning for any psych majors out there). I use my bedtime oil on my wrist/ behind my ears or in my humidifier for a more “encompassing” experience. An (affordable) range of products I LOVE is the Bath & Body Works Sleep line.
2. Pen and paper
Hear me out- this is a tip my mama taught me. You know those nagging thoughts you get in the middle of the night about things you need to do or ideas you don’t want to forget? Instead of trying to get them done or writing these thoughts down on your phone (see bedtime rituals no. 4), I always have a pad of paper next to my bed so I can jot these down and address them the next day. My stress is alleviated because I know I will get it done first thing in the morning and I don’t wake up wondering what the hell my award winning idea was at 4 AM.
3. Eye Mask and Ear Plugs
Derpy, but it works. My apartment is placed directly next to all the bars on campus which is great for the nights I want to go out, but not the best for nights when I’m staying in and it sounds like a stadium of people are singing “FEFE” all at once. If you want to be boujee, invest in a silk eye mask (feels nicer and doesn’t tug on your eyes). As for earplugs, you’re not gonna look cute, but you’re sleeping so literally who cares.
Ah, good ol’ Aquaphor. Not only will it keeps your lips from cracking in the winter (ew) but you will wake up with the plumpest lips ever- no filler needed.
5. A good book
I wish I could say that I read every night before going to bed but unfortunately that isn’t my reality as a busy college student. That remains on my list of resolutions, but for now, I pick up wherever I left off whenever I get the time. I am currently (struggling) to get through Gone Girl.
Need book recommendations? Check out the amazing comments on this blog post for some inspo from your blog reading peers!
6. Yummy candle
ONLY IF YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. But here are some of my favorites:
- Thymes Fraiser Fir (I’m a sucker for pine)
- Fresh Brown Sugar Candle My mom wore this perfume growing up so it is one of my favorite scents by default. But I promise it’s a good one.
- Replica Lazy Sunday Morning (or night?)
- For those of you who don’t trust yourself with candles, try this lavender, cedar, and eucalyptus diffuser.
- This one from Bath & Body Works just straight up smells like MAN. What more could you ask for- a nice clean smell of boy without any drama.
(stating LOUD AND CLEAR that if you burn your house down it is not my fault.)
If worst comes to worst and you really aren’t falling asleep, turn to melatonin (a naturally occurring sleeping aid available in tablets) before ZzzQuill or Unisom. It will minimize drowsiness in the morning and isn’t addicting.
I also love the Olly gummies- I find they work really well and don’t give me weird dreams the way that melatonin does.
If all else fails (random tricks & tips):
- Workout in the first half of your day. This will exhaust your body. It is better to workout earlier so your body uses endorphins as energy and not something keeping you up
- Turn on a sleep playlist and use the timer app on your phone to turn the music off past a certain period of time.
- Stretch before bed. Sometimes it can help to work out any kinks or sore areas before getting horizontal. My mom and I love using a foam roller for our legs and backs before bed.
- Make your bedding cozier. If you upgrade your sheets or add a cozy blanket, it might help you snooze off faster. You’ll have the same effect if you get a new pillow.
- Drink bedtime tea before bed. Not sure if this works but hey, might be worth a shot.
- Read a book. This can tire your eyes and give you things to think about before bed (that aren’t stressful items on your to-do list).
- Focus on your breathing. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but sometimes it has really helped me to focus on deep breathing and counting my breaths.
- Create a mantra. Fun fact: I created a mantra (happens to be just one word: bedtime) at a 5th grade birthday party when I was rolling around and couldn’t sleep and have used the same term ever since which I repeat over and over and without fail always puts me to bed. Kinda weird but does the trick.
- Open your blinds so you wake up with the sun. A huge reason some people might have trouble falling asleep at a decent time is because they sleep in too late. Keep your blinds open and wake up with the sun so your body is accustomed to start to get tired as the sun goes down.
BEFORE YOU NOD OFF…
Creating a healthy sleep cycle is like a diet- you can’t expect to make healthy changes for a day and feel 10x better the next- it takes practice and dedication. If you think I missed any points, leave your own advice in the comments!
Please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor and these are just my recommendations based on my personal experiences. If you have serious insomnia, you should see a therapist or sleep doctor. Happy snoozing!
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