Keep finding yourself wide awake and counting sheep at 3am despite a really busy day at uni? If so, here are physiologist and sleep therapist Dr Nerina Ramlakhan’s top tips on getting a good night’s sleep while at university…
1. Treat yourself to bed linen that really appeals to your senses, makes you feel safe and at home and makes your bed feel like a sanctuary. Make your bed up every morning so that it looks and feels inviting at night. Treat your sleep space well and it will return the favour! (And check out our competition to win a complete Silentnight bed set!)
2. Ensure your bed is a work-free zone – avoid working in bed or leaving books and papers strewn on your bed. Try and apply this to tech too. You’ll sleep better if you don’t work in bed on your laptop, tablet or phone.
3. Use calming, soothing aromatherapy oils such as lavender, chamomile, passion flower and eucalyptus oils on your bed linen – they not only smell pleasant but they induce sleep.
4. If you really are very sensitive to noise consider getting a white noise machine or a fan in your room. This can stop you being woken suddenly by slamming doors or people running up and down corridors.
5. Alcohol is a stimulant so bear in mind that even though it might initially relax you and help you to sleep (or pass out), it’s likely to wake you in the early hours (usually between 2 and 4am) and it’s then harder to get to sleep.
6. Avoid checking the time when you wake during the night – it makes it harder for you to get back to sleep. Especially avoid looking at your phone if you wake during the night.
7. Avoid caffeine after 2pm if you’re really struggling to sleep at night.
8. Try to get regular exercise and fresh air.
9. Eat breakfast every morning within 30 minutes of getting up. This will set you up to concentrate better and help you sleep better at night by maximising the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
10. If you’re feeling over-stimulated and over-excited by your day then try this technique to get you to sleep:
Bring your attention to your breathing and follow your breaths using the words ‘IN’ and ‘OUT’. While doing this, cast your mind over your day and think of all the new people you’ve met. Think of any new events that have made you happy. Allow yourself to feel grateful for entering this new phase of your life and breathe into the feeling of gratitude.
And, if you really are exhausted, try napping at some point between 2 and 4pm, but for no more than 40 minutes as this will make it hard for you to sleep at night. If you don’t have that much time, even a 10- to 20-minute power nap can help to pep you up.
Dr Nerina is author of Tired But Wired: How to Overcome Your Sleep Problems: The Essential Toolkit and Silentnight’s ‘sleep expert’