Let’s Snooze: sleepy tips from the peer -eds
by Gaby, with input from all the peer educators!
We’ve all got a different relationship with sleep. It’s super easy for some, hard for others, and everyone needs a different amount to feel their best! This blog post is a compilation of different sleep-related tips from the peer-eds. One, none, or many of these tips might be helpful or useful for you. Read on and happy sleeping!
Figure out how much sleep you need, and prioritize getting that much
Whatever amount of sleep you and your body need to feel rested is valid and normal. Some people function well on 7 hours, while others need 12 or more.
The cultural over-emphasis on productivity on this campus and beyond would have you believe that sleep should be minimized and sacrificed in favor of working. Because of this, someone who needs more sleep might feel pressure to sleep less in order to meet these unreasonable expectations for productivity. We are here to say that getting enough sleep for you is not selfish or lazy or indulgent, it’s simply meeting your own basic needs. You deserve to have your needs met!
It’s important to note that some people can’t simply choose to divest from stress culture and get enough sleep. There are many people who have so many necessary commitments that they aren’t able to get as much sleep as they need. For example, low-income students who work jobs in addition to being full-time students and participating in extracurriculars are particularly strapped for time.
Tip: Wondering how much sleep you need? Peer ed Jenna suggests noting how much sleep you got and then tracking your mood and energy throughout the day. You can write down these observations for a few different sleep amounts and then determine what your ideal sleep time is.
Cultivate a bedtime routine, and try to stick with it
Your body needs time to prepare itself to go to sleep and when you develop a routine, your body starts to recognize that it’s time to start winding down.
When I put the kids I babysit to bed, even though it’s only 7pm, I get so sleepy and feel like I should be going to bed too. It’s because of the routine! I help them put away their toys, get in PJs, brush their teeth, read books, and then tuck them in. By the time we’ve gone through the whole ritual, my eyes are ready to close too.
We still need bedtime routines, even when we aren’t kids anymore. Figure out what calming bedtime-prep activities work for you, and then try to do them as consistently as possible.
Some ideas from the peer eds:
- Drink a cup of non-caffeinated tea
- Checking the weather and choosing an outfit for the next day
- Playing a round of bananagrams with your roommate
- A few relaxing yoga poses or stretches
- Watch ASMR videos (suggestions: Lush products, soap cutting, scalp massage, alien abduction(?!?))
- Putting on lotion, or another small pampering activity (sleepy lotion from Lush)
- Turn off your big light and put on a softer light (you can buy light bulbs that change color!
Your routine doesn’t need to be that long, and it certainly doesn’t need to include anything that doesn’t feel natural or good to you. All you need is a few relaxing activities that let your body know it’s time for bed time!
Put away your computer, phone, tablet, etc
I’m sure by now someone has warned you about the dangers of ~blue light~ eminanting menacingly from your electronic devices. Unfortunately, it’s true that scrolling through instagram right before bed, though it may feel relaxing, can make it harder for your body to get to sleep, and sleep well. For lots of science-y reasons, the blue light from electronic screens interferes with your body’s sleep.
If your first reaction to this is “no way!” –I also never thought I would be converted, but after trying for just a few days I was hooked! I encourage you to try replacing screen time with a different activity for one or two nights to see if it works for you.
My favorite is reading, specifically children’s and young adult books because they are entertaining and easy to read when you’re tired, but there are lots of options.
The peer eds have these ideas for other non-screen relaxing activities:
- Meditation / breathing exercises
- Drawing or doodling
- Knitting / crocheting
- Chatting with your roommate while laying in your respective beds
- Listening to a playlist of calming songs
- Progressive muscle relaxation: tensing and relaxing every part of your body starting with your feet and working your way up
Masturbating is great for all sorts of reasons, one of which is improving your sleep. Masturbation and orgasm release hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine which help you relax and also specifically help regulate your REM cycles, which improves the quality of your sleep.
If you live in a single, or you and your roommate are on very different schedules, consider masturbating before sleep!
Can’t sleep? Get up and do something calm!
Laying in bed and not being able to fall asleep can get frustrating very fast. Being frustrated or stressing about not getting enough sleep makes it even harder to fall asleep. It might seem counterintuitive, but if you are struggling to fall asleep, it’s actually most helpful to get out of bed and do something calm for a bit until you’re tired and then trying again.
More bedtime suggestions from the peer eds
- An essential oil diffuser provides a pleasantly-scented environment
- A humidifier is helpful if your room is especially dry and you find yourself waking up feeling parched
- If you have any control over the temperature in your room (tough in a residence hall!), a colder room and warm blankets is better for staying asleep
- Keep a notebook or journal near bed to write down thoughts that are keeping you awake
- Water bottle or glass of water for if you wake up thirsty and don’t want to get out of bed
- Explore the possibilities of pillows. Experiment with more or less pillows than you currently have, and check out how different pillow arrangements and sizes can support your body
- Try different types of meditation to see if one works for you. We recommend the guided meditation from headspace, and once you’ve done it for a while, you’ll probably know it well enough to do on your own
- If you have trouble falling asleep, it’s helpful to avoid naps during the day (hard but worth it!) in order to build up your tiredness for bedtime
- Plan to be in bed for longer than you actually need to sleep, because falling asleep and waking up both take time as well
- Listen to or read something boring – like the podcast “sleep with me” (a white man with a very boring voice talks about random things to lull you to sleep) or a reading that you’ve been avoiding because it’s theoretically dense. Podcast pro-tip: on the Apple podcast app, you can set them to stop on a timer!
- If your thoughts and worries keep you up, try thinking about something else, like:
- What you want to dream about
- The plot of the next chapter of your Hermione/Hayley Williams fanfiction
- A movie, book, or vegetable that start with every letter of the alphabet
- Wrap yourself in a blanket and roll around a bit, simulating being cuddled or held kind of like a baby. Also check out these types of self–massage