Illustration by Seth Moriarty

Gabriel’s Gains: tips for healthy sleep and rest

It seems like most of my peers and I suffer from a similar vice: we are not sleeping as well as we could. For some, a lacking nap game leaves you craving more sleep. Others may be getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep but for some reason feel just as bad as if it were only three. 

My problem is drifting off into the blissful bosom of sleep. Luckily for me, there are steps you can take to stop restlessness. If you are planning on conking out after finishing homework, knock out any work that requires electronics first and save any reading or worksheets for last. Electronics emit blue light that disrupts your ability to fall asleep by suppressing melatonin production. This also means that watching YouTube, Netflix or simply scrolling through Instagram restricts your ability to fall asleep. 

Along with avoiding blue light before bed, maintaining and satisfying your circadian rhythm is equally as important. Your circadian rhythm determines the peaks and troughs of melatonin production throughout the day. Light exposure, meal times and exercise can all affect your circadian rhythm. If you are eating and exercising later in the day you will want to fall asleep later in the night. Sleeping in and staying up late both have adverse effects on your circadian rhythm, leaving you feeling sleepy even if you slept seven to nine hours.

Nighttime may not be the only time you sleep, so it is important to pay attention to your naps. Naps, if done wrong, can leave you feeling groggier than you did before. If you have the time, aim for a 30-minute nap. This is the ideal amount of time that will leave you feeling rejuvenated. You should also limit your napping so that you wake up at least three hours before planning on going to sleep. 

If your room or hall is loud, consider learning to sleep with earplugs. Making yourself comfortable and ridding yourself of any strong emotions negative or positive can also support a faster path to sleep. Exercising if done approximately an hour before can improve sleep. Incorporating relaxing activities before bedtime can make falling asleep as easy as spotting a hickey in the Bon. Drinking decaffeinated tea, meditation, yoga, guided breathing exercises or reading can set you up for a great night of sleep. 

Sleeping well is one of the most important things for your mental health. Not only is it vital for your mental wellbeing, but getting the right amount of sleep can also help prevent strokes, kidney disease and diabetes. Proper sleep can even be a life-saving choice. It is estimated that 1,500 deaths per year result from car accidents where sleeplessness was a factor. 

The gravity of a good night’s sleep should not be underestimated. Making the right choices for your sleeping body can make the difference between a good or bad day. Whether you are counting sheep, sexercising or between two pages of a good book, make sure you are making healthy sleeping choices.

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