Sleep is crucial not just for physical and mental well-being, but for the consolidation of learning, and to ensure you perform in all your endeavours in peak condition. The absolute last resort should be to sacrifice sleep time in order to get things done.
How much sleep is right for you? This is tricky as everyone is different. Some lucky people need only 6 hours a night, most people need about 8 hours and some people need 10 hours!
Two ways to tell if you are getting enough sleep:
How quickly do you fall asleep at night? If you fall asleep instantly that can be a sign you are not getting enough sleep, it should take 10-15 minutes to fall asleep.
How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? If you feel tired and sluggish then that can also be a sign that you need to get to bed earlier.
IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF YOUR SLEEP:
- Avoid caffeine (cola drinks, coffee, energy drinks, chocolate) after dinner or even better, no later than 4pm.
- Organise as much as you can at night to minimise what you have to do in the morning (e.g. organise your clothes for the next day, pack your bag).
- Try and have a half hour to an hour before you go to bed without computers, TV, phone or any electronic devices or homework or chatting to friends. If you can’t do that, at least put the devices on night mode or turn the brightness down.
- Set up a relaxing ‘wind-down’ routine for before you go to bed. Do this same routine every night (e.g. warm shower, reading, listening to quiet music) so your brain associates these activities with bed time and sleep.
- A drop in body temperature near bedtime triggers the sense that is time to go to sleep. So after a warm bath or hot shower, cool yourself down. It is also better at night to be cool rather than overheated.
- Keep your room as dark and as quiet as possible at night.
- When you lie in bed, start at your feet and mentally imagine relaxing each muscle as you slowly work your way up the body. Most people do not make it up to their head before they fall asleep!
- In the morning open the curtains wide or go out into the sun and get lots of light to help wake your brain. Being exposed to lots of natural light during the day will also help the body produce the melatonin at the right time for a good sleep cycle.
- A healthy breakfast will help to kick-start your body clock for the day.