Insomnia is a serious state that may seriously mess you up; especially in college, when we need all our attention and energy to learn. Constant stress, going to bed lately, issues in personal life, even junk food - all these things can influence our sleeping habits and not for good.
Insomnia is a complex problem that shouldn’t be treated carelessly.
Here are some things that might help:
Listen to your daily cycle
The scientists’ recent discovery suggests that being a morning or evening person is an evolutionary trait. Our cave ancestors had a special caste of sentinels - slightly genetically altered individuals whose biological clock was shifted a bit. They were much more active and aware at night than the rest of the tribe and could protect their sleepy fellows from the night predators.
Unfortunately, the modern world is designed mostly for the morning people. Maybe, you can’t sleep well because of the daily violation of your biological cycle? Sometimes, taking short naps during the day or shifting your schedule for a couple of hours can help greatly.
Talk about that with your teacher - possibly, you can attend the morning lessons with some other group or even online? Lots of people are conservative about it, but if they see that your performance and grade increases they will take it easier.
Healthy habits are called healthy for a reason
When we feel sick we rarely sleep well. But sometimes sleeplessness is the only symptom that we are not okay. It might be anything: from a chronic disorder to the wrong bacterial population inside your stomach. Adopting some good habits may greatly help - though there is no obvious connection between doing things right and sleeping well.
Make your latest daily meal a healthy one. If you are on the “don’t eat after 6 pm” diet, you may sleep poorly just because your body is hungry and your primal brain wants to go hunt and gather. Something light but nutritious - like yogurt or vegetable salad with olive oil - won’t do much harm, but may let you sleep.
Getting physically tired also helps to have a big good nap. You don’t have to exercise yourself up to the point of aching muscles, but some activity - and a relaxing bath or shower afterwards - gives a signal to your body to rest and regain energy. If this activity is somewhat rewarding (not exciting like winning a running competition, but just pleases you - like doing five push-ups more than usually) - the feeling of being proud of yourself will also calm you down. “Great job”, says your body to your brain. “You may rest now”.
Also, try to organize optimally your study. Use different sources to make your homework more effective, look for paper examples on websites like ProCollegeEssays or watch educational videos that will make you faster while working on your college assignment. Stress from study also impacts your sleep.
Try to avoid strong emotions before you go to sleep. Over excitement, as much as stress, fills our blood with different hormones that make us active. These hormones should be put to work - either through physical activity or through some creative one like singing or painting your feelings out. If they stay in your blood unused - you will most probably stay awake until they are processed in your liver and kidneys.
Watch your gadgets (or don’t?)
Our body has another hormone called melatonin to make us feel sleepy. The production of this hormone depends on our daily cycle, but also on the level of light. Our laptops, phones and tables produce a lot of light when we watch them. Moreover, they usually show us either light-colored screens with dark letters on them or daily activities like movies. Our brain reads them as a signal to engage into daily life, because hey, it’s still light and people are doing things!
Scientists advise to cease using gadgets an hour or two before you go to bed. We all understand that this is somewhat utopian. That’s why people invented night mode for lots of sites. Night mode usually features a dark screen with lighter letters on it. It makes our eyes less tired, saves battery and produces less light, not confusing our brain. So if you are going to scroll through the news feed before you sleep - do it in the night mode.
Consult a doctor
All the advice above are general, but sometimes they don’t help at all or the changes are too small to be helpful. Then it’s time to go see a doctor and get professional help. Insomnia might be a symptom of something else or your chronic stress became so chronic that you can’t feel it anymore - only the consequences of it. If things get serious, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The bad news are that sleep disorders are way too common in modern society. But the good news are that they are mostly curable. Sometimes it’s enough to change your daily schedule, get some good habits or treat your anxiety to get a healthy good sleep and increase the quality of your life dramatically.
By following a few sleep hygiene practices on a nightly basis, you're almost guaranteed to get more fulfilling sleep at night and be more awake and alert during the day.
If, however, you're practicing these hygiene tips and still finding yourself feeling tired and sluggish during the day, it could be a sign of a sleep disorder.
If you believe that your sleep troubles are being caused by a sleep disorder, contact your local sleep clinic for a consultation with a sleep specialist. At The Alaska Sleep Clinic, we specialize in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of sleep disorders, and have helped thousands of Alaskans improve the quality of their sleep.
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