After a summer away from uni, perhaps working full-time, or reverting back to family routines, the return to student life, let alone Welcome Week, can come as a bit of a shock to the system! One issue that is consistently brought to us here in the Counselling Department, is the difficulty that many students have with their sleep patterns. Unfortunately student life is not really conducive to a regular 9 – 5 lifestyle, and thus it can be really easy to slip into a habit of late nights, and long lie-ins…and then struggle when 9am lectures are scheduled.
If this sounds like you, try the following tips:
• Keep to a set bed-time; if you are a night owl and prefer to go to bed around midnight, that’s fine, but make sure that you don’t then over-compensate by getting up at lunch-time the following day. Our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin that helps us to sleep; levels start to rise as the sun goes down, and then decrease as the sun rises meaning that you will be working against, instead of with, your natural sleep hormones if you go to bed as the sun is coming up.
• Get up when your alarm goes off; repeatedly hitting snooze doesn’t provide you with refreshing sleep, it just messes up your ability to go to sleep in the evening! Our bodies are designed to get the most refreshing sleep early on in our sleep cycle, so dozing does not provide the quality of sleep that you need. It’s better to get up when the alarm goes off, and if you still feel tired, just schedule in an earlier bedtime.
• Use an alarm clock, not your phone – that way you will not be tempted to check it through the night, and you won’t be woken up by alerts sounding during the small hours. Although research is conflicting on this, there is also some evidence to suggest that the blue-light of the phone screen can interfere with your production of melatonin as well.